IUCr response to the Global Information Commons for Science
The Global Information Commons for Science Initiative (GICSI) is a
multi-stakeholder initiative arising from the second phase of the
World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in November 2005,
with an overall goal of accelerating the development and scaling up of
open scientific data and information resources on a global basis.
The International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) acknowledges the
importance to the scientific endeavour of full and equitable access to
scientific information. It therefore warmly endorses the goals of the
Initiative, and supports the proposed implementation, subject to a
sound business model and effective management by its participating
The IUCr recognises the Initiative's strong emphasis on the principle
of open availability as an ideal medium of dissemination for publicly
funded research findings and data. However, the IUCr itself is one
among many organizations that provide high-quality value-added
publishing and data services, historically funded through
subscriptions, direct sales and other commercially mediated
mechanisms. Although the IUCr is experimenting with various routes
towards open availability, it is not clear that this can always be
achieved, or that it is invariably the best solution.
The IUCr's continuing and proposed contributions to fostering a global
information commons through its publishing and data activities
- Continuing the practice of supplying free of charge the primary
research data, machine-readable sets of atomic coordinates and
structure factors, and other supplementary documents supporting the
primary research results reported in its scientific journals.
- Continuing the practice of providing open access to education
papers, software application papers and Commission reports published
in those journals.
- Continuing to provide means such as the IUCr Journal Grants Fund
and involvement with a commercial partner in INASP programmes to
maximise the availability of low-cost subscriptions to developing
- Continuing its current hybrid open-access/subscription model to
provide authors with an opportunity to pay production costs for their
articles and thereby allow them to be accessed freely.
- Continuing studies and projects towards the introduction of full
open-access publication under an appropriate economically sustainable
- Investigating the possibility of commissioning and implementing
high-quality open-access reference resources through collaborative Web
- Formalising a machine-readable set of licensing terms stipulating
re-use and redistribution of primary and derived data sets modelled on
Science Commons paradigms.
- Continuing to offer the checkCIF service as an objective tool for
assessing the quality of crystal structural data, and encouraging
cross-checking of data-based results through a diversity of publicly
- Working with the crystallographic databases to try to ensure that
individual researchers in the least developed countries can get access
to the databases.
- Promoting the development of open-source collaborative
computational projects in crystallography.
- Promoting the open documentation of algorithms and computational
techniques employed by software in reducing, analysing and
transforming crystallographic data, even for closed-source
- Encouraging sharing of research material and tools across the
international scientific community.
The IUCr proposes to work in support of the organizations on which it
is directly represented (ICSU, CODATA, ICSTI) to realise the goals of
GICSI in a manner which is sustainable within the IUCr's approach to
publishing, data collection, organisation, curation and archiving.
A position paper providing further details of the IUCr response to the
Global Information Commons for Science Initiative is available
from the IUCr web site at