Cover of Designing the Microbial Research Commons

Designing the Microbial Research Commons

Proceedings of an International Symposium

; Editor: Paul F Uhlir.

Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); .
ISBN-13: 978-0-309-21979-2ISBN-10: 0-309-21979-5
Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.


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: 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:

  1. Delineate the research and applications opportunities from improved integration of microbial data, information, and materials and from enhanced collaboration within the global microbial community.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.