Medical Information Commons

Draft (Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons, Forthcoming)

16 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2018

See all articles by Mary Anderlik Majumder

Mary Anderlik Majumder

Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine

Peter Zuk

Rice University

Amy L. McGuire

Baylor College of Medicine

Date Written: February 28, 2018

Abstract

In this paper, we develop the concept of a medical information commons, laying out its central features and exploring connections to several strands of commons theory. We then hone in on normative questions raised by efforts to create widely-shared informational resources in the biomedical research space. Addressing these questions involves examination of the claims of key stakeholders and excavation of the moral foundations of governance mechanisms. We believe this analysis yields several important lessons for leaders of current efforts. First, they should consider investing resources in empirical studies to inform evaluation of the trade-offs associated with alternative strategies for involving participants. Second, there is intrinsic as well as instrumental value to the engagement of all stakeholders on terms that approximate as closely as possible norms of mutual regard and equal respect, a standard that is demanding but also flexible. Third (and related), consistent with principles of adaptive governance, nesting, and institutional variety, differences of approach across efforts should be expected and are indeed desirable. Finally, while it is possible to combine insights from the public domain and common-pool resource strands of commons theory, there are tensions between the two approaches. The rhetoric of “broad sharing” and “openness” may obscure the need to make difficult decisions about the boundaries of a commons, allocation of resultant benefits and burdens, and enforcement of rules.

Keywords: commons theory, biomedical research, ethics

Suggested Citation

Majumder, Mary Anderlik and Zuk, Peter and McGuire, Amy L., Medical Information Commons (February 28, 2018). Draft (Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3131913

Mary Anderlik Majumder (Contact Author)

Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine ( email )

One Baylor Plaza
Houston, TX TX - Texas 77030
United States

Peter Zuk

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Amy L. McGuire

Baylor College of Medicine ( email )

One Baylor Plaza
Apt 510
Houston, TX TX - Texas 77030
United States

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