Negotiating World Research Data: A science diplomacy study
Exploring the origins of global scientific data exchange systems
Science relies on global structures to exchange data whose origins and configuration are still largely unknown. The EU-funded project NEWORLDatA will shape a unique collaboration between research centres across Europe and beyond to unearth the history of these systems, through a unique combination of international relations and history of science perspectives. By mapping past networking patterns, the project will first reveal imbalances in the distribution of data, especially between Global North and Global South countries. It will also chart the international legal infrastructure that supports this uneven data distribution. NEWORLDatA will finally uncover the science diplomacy exercises that have shaped the current global science data exchange system.
Research data are vital components of any scientific enterprise and the introduction of more inclusive world data exchange practices is a decisive factor, locally and globally, in strengthening capacity for research and innovation and tackling societal challenges. Yet we now comparatively little about what international negotiations have paved the way to the current global system of research data circulation and exchange. NEWORLD@A aims to provide the first comprehensive survey about the sets of science diplomacy exercises that have contributed to shape the current world data exchange system. This study will pioneer transnational research collaborations in order to successfully reconstruct these key historical transitions, also enmeshing non-Western narratives in the study of research data negotiations. Through an original combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, the study will first map existing networking patterns of data circulation and reveal existing imbalances in the world distribution of research data centres. It will then chart the international legal infrastructure that supports this distribution. It will also identify the historical determinants for the shape of world data exchange networks through an investigation of relevant archival documents across the world discussing the relevant negotiations and decision-making processes. They study will focus in particular on interactions between: non-governmental and governmental transnational organizations such as those under the aegis of ICSU and UNESCO; Western and Eastern blocs in the context of the Cold War science race; and Global North and South nations in the uses of research data for development purposes. Shedding new light on how these interactions have shaped the current research data circulation system will finally provide the analysis needed to inform current policy provisions on how to make these systems more inclusive and responsive to global challenges.