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An Introduction to the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science

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Spring 2010

Lynn Yarmey (CCE/PAL)

The Panton Principles for Open Data in Science (, released in February 2010, are relatively straightforward but powerful guidelines to data publication online. These principles come from the digital curation community, an increasingly active consortium of librarians, information scientists, technologists and a small number of open-access publishers. In the months since the American Naturalist announcement regarding mandated data publication (Whitlock et al, 2010), issues surrounding licensing will likely remain at the forefront of attention. While simply putting data online may imply permission for data copy, reuse and republication, the Panton Principles encourage stating these intents specifically through the use of licenses in order to formalize the permissions associated with accessible data.

The Panton Principles seek to formalize the nature of data available online, stating that: "data related to published science should be explicitly placed in the public domain." As a quick introduction, the Panton Principles condense to the following four points pulled from the above website:

  • When publishing data make an explicit and robust statement of your wishes.
  • Use a recognized waiver or license that is appropriate for data.
  • If you want your data to be effectively used and added to by others it should be open as defined by the Open Knowledge/Data Definition - in particular non-commercial and other restrictive clauses should not be used.
  • Explicit dedication of data underlying published science into the public domain via PDDL or CCZero is strongly recommended and ensures compliance with both the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data and the Open Knowledge/Data Definition.

The website goes into more detail about each of the elements and offers supporting information about what specific licenses may or may not be appropriate, etc. Endorsed by a small but significant mix of international people from universities, research centers, corporations, publishers and Open Data groups, the Panton Principles offer an entry point to the legalities surrounding what it means for data to be truly "open."

John Porter (2010) provided a review this year of the LTER policy for data sharing. Costello (2009) recently suggested formalizing the notion of data sharing by developing the concept of 'data publication' together with associated mechanisms for data publication. Emerging from within the digital curation community, the Panton Principles continue this data publication discussion to include licensing of data in order to communicate intent and permissions with potential data re-users.

For more information:

Costello, M.J. (2009). Motivating online publication of data. BioScience 59(5),418-427.

Porter, J.H. (2010). A Brief History of Data Sharing in the U.S. Long Term Ecological Research Network. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 91(1), 14-20. doi: 10.1890/0012-9623-91.1.14

Whitlock, M.C., McPeek, M.A., Rausher, M.D., Rieseberg, L. and A.J. Moore. (2010). Data Archiving. The American Naturalist 175(2), 145-146.