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EC earmarks €50m for online scientific data storage

Opens access to research

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The European Commission has set aside €50m this year to support the establishment of digital repositories for storing scientific data.

The announcement was made at the beginning of a two-day conference in Brussels which focuses on scientific publishing in Europe.

In addition to the funding set aside for establishing repositories, Janez Potocnik, the European Commissioner for Science and Research, said that a further €25m is being made available for digital preservation in 2007, while €10m is to be given by the commission's "eContentplus" programme to improve interoperability of and multilingual access to collections of scientific material.

At the conference, which began on Thursday, the commission formally launched a new policy document aimed at examining how digital technologies can be used to increase access to research publications and data.

The commission believes that easier access to scientific data has a significant role to play in driving innovation and maintaining the quality of research across Europe.

"The digital revolution has dramatically improved the way in which scientific information is spread," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "But it also raises new questions about how to preserve scientific information for the future. Today's strategy outlines how Europe can best capitalise on the excellent work of its researchers."

According to the commission, digital technologies are already reshaping how research information is viewed, analysed, and eventually published. It estimates that around 90 per cent of all science journals are now available online, although many of these journals are currently only available by subscription.

The commission believes that providing free access to scientific research data opens the way to new types of uses and services, often through re-using past results as the raw material for new experimentation. However, it warns that online access does not guarantee its future availability because digital information has a limited lifetime and needs to be maintained over time.

Therefore, the commission says better tools are needed to ensure digital preservation to prevent the loss of important scientific information.

"New ideas are usually built on the results of previous research," added Potocnik. "We must make sure that the flow of scientific information contributes to innovation and research excellence in the European Research Area."

Copyright © 2007, ENN

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