Check Your Data Freedom: A Taxonomy to Assess Life Science Database Openness

10 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2010

Date Written: July 14, 2008


Molecular biology data are subject to terms of use that vary widely between databases and curating institutions. This research presents a taxonomy of contractual and technical restrictions applicable to databases in life science. It builds upon research led by Science Commons demonstrating why open data and the freedom to integrate facilitate innovation and how this openness can be achieved. The taxonomy describes technical and legal restrictions applicable to life science databases, and its metadata have been used to assess terms of use of databases hosted by Life Science Resource Name (LSRN) Schema. While a few public domain policies are standardized, most terms of use are not harmonized, difficult to understand and impose controls that prevent others from effectively reusing data. Identifying a small number of restrictions allows one to quickly appreciate which databases are open. A checklist for data openness is proposed in order to assist database curators who wish to make their data more open to make sure they do so.

Keywords: Life science data, open access, bioinformatics, copyright law, database, taxonomy, Science Commons, public domain

Suggested Citation

Dulong de Rosnay, Mélanie, Check Your Data Freedom: A Taxonomy to Assess Life Science Database Openness (July 14, 2008). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2008-5, Available at SSRN: or

Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay (Contact Author)

CNRS - Communication Sciences ( email )

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris, 75794

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics