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It's not the stark beauty of the glass-walled Janelia Farm Research Campus—or even the fact that an icon of modernism, Philip Johnson's glass house, is about to turn 50—that prompts these reflections. Rather, I am inspired by Nobelist Max Perutz, who famously remarked, "True science thrives best in glass houses, where everyone can look in."
That quotation summarizes the conclusions of a National Research Council committee, which I chaired, that was charged with taking a fresh look at the responsibilities of scientists to share the data and materials referenced in original research articles. Our 2003 report articulated a concept that we dubbed UPSIDE—the Uniform Principle for Sharing Integral Data and Materials Expeditiously.
Scientists publish to disclose their discoveries and get credit for making them. In exchange, authors are expected to demonstrate good behavior in the scientific playground—that is, to share research materials in a timely and useful fashion—because that's what enables their colleagues to validate the research and to use the knowledge as a foundation for new discoveries.
We have long required Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators to share their published research materials to the extent possible. In 2003, we instituted a formal policy that sets out our expectations for adherence to UPSIDE in the clearest possible terms. The policy, which now extends to scientists at Janelia Farm, reflects the value we place on full participation in the scientific community and the discovery of knowledge.
Photo: Paul Fetters