The information and resources generated by the Human Genome Project (HGP) have become substantial, and the interest in access is widespread. It is therefore desirable to have a statement of philosophy concerning the sharing of these resources that can guide investigators who generate the resources as well a those who wish to use them.
A key issue for the HGP is how to promote and encourage the rapid sharing of material and data that are produced, especially information that has not yet been published or may never be published in its entirety. Such sharing is essential for progress toward the goals of the program and to avoid unnecessary duplication. It is also desirable to make the fruits of genome research available to the scientific community as a whole as soon as possible to expedite research in other areas.
Although it is the policy of the HGP to maximize outreach to the scientific community, it is also necessary to give investigators time to verify the accuracy of their data and to gain some scientific advantage from the effort they have invested. Furthermore, in order to assure that novel ideas and inventions are rapidly developed to the benefit of the public, intellectual property protection may be needed for some of the data and materials.
After extensive discussion with the community of genome researchers, the advisors of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy (DOE) genome programs have determined that consensus is developing around the concept that a six-month period, from the time data or materials are generated to the time they are made available publicly, is a reasonable maximum in almost all cases. More rapid sharing is encouraged.
Whenever possible, data should be deposited in public databases and materials in public repositories. Where appropriate repositories do not exist or are unable to accept the data or materials, investigators should accommodate requests to the extent possible.
The NIH and DOE genome programs have decided to require all applicants expecting to generate significant amounts of genome data and materials to describe in their application how and when they plan to make such data and materials available to the community. Grant solicitations will specify this requirement. These plans in each application will be reviewed in the course of peer review and by staff to assure they are reasonable and in conformity with program philosophy. If grant is made, the applicant's sharing plans will become a condition of the award and compliance will be reviewed before continuation is provided. Progress reports will be asked to address the issue.
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Last Reviewed: March 9, 2012