The Board on Research Data and Information held an International Symposium on
Designing the Microbial Research Commons at the National Academy of Sciences in
Washington, DC on 8–9 October 2009. Organized by a separately appointed
Steering Committee, this symposium expanded on prior international discussions on
the same topic at a conference in June 2008 in Ghent, Belgium (see: http://www.microbialcommons.ugent.be/). The October 2009 symposium
addressed topics such as models to lower the transaction costs and support access to
and use of microbiological materials and digital resources from the perspective of
publicly funded research, public-private interactions, and developing country
concerns. The overall goal of the symposium was to stimulate more research and
implementation of improved legal and institutional models for publicly funded
research in microbiology.
The International Symposium on Designing the Microbial Research Commons focused on
accomplishing the following tasks:
Delineate the research and applications opportunities from improved
integration of microbial data, information, and materials and from enhanced
collaboration within the global microbial community.
Identify the global challenges and barriers—the scientific,
technical, institutional, legal, economic, and socio-cultural—that
hinder the integration of microbial resources and the collaborative practice
of scientific communities in the microbial commons.
Characterize the alternative legal and policy approaches developed and
implemented by other research communities, such as common-use licensing for
scientific data and information, standard-form material transfer agreements,
open access publishing, and open data networks that could be applied
successfully by the microbial research community.
Define the contributions of new information and communication technology
(ICT) tools in building federated information infrastructures, such as
ontologies, data and text mining, and web 2.0.
Discuss and evaluate the institutional design and governance principles of
data and information sharing among information infrastructures, drawing upon
and analyzing successful and failed case studies in the life sciences.
Identify the range of policy issues that need to be addressed for maximizing
open access to materials, data and literature information in an integrated
microbial research commons.
This study was supported by the National Science
Foundation under Grant No. OCI-082173 and by the Department of Energy Grant No.
DE-SC0002579. This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency
of the United States government. Neither the United States government nor any agency
thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or
assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or
usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or
represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein
to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark,
manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement,
recommendation, or favoring by the United States government or any agency
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication
are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing
Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of
the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the
Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were
chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
© 2011, National Academy of