Open Data White Paper

28 June 2012

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“The Government is right to be committed to open data in public services. However, if universities are to be involved then it’s important that everyone understands the huge quantity and the complexity of the data they use, especially for research.

“The Research Transparency Sector Board which will play an important role in helping to understand how best to deliver openness while also making sure researchers are able to do their work in a way which benefits everyone - we hope universities will be well represented.

“Openness is increasingly important in terms of research and scientific data, especially with the new opportunities created by technological advances.  Our researchers and universities are always keen to explore new ways to maximise the impact of our world-class research and it is a key part of the mission of all Russell Group universities.

“As the Royal Society report on open science noted only last week opening up scientific data is not always an unqualified good.  Commercial value, privacy, safety and security must all be protected so there must be legitimate boundaries to openness.

“Making scientific data accessible - and useful - for non-specialists creates its own particular challenges so there is a risk that the release of certain scientific data can do as much damage as it can good. 

“We also believe that Freedom of Information legislation should explicitly exempt research data, so universities can operate successfully in a highly competitive global environment and reduce expensive bureaucracy.”

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Reducing blood transfusions to lower patient risk, reduce costs and save lives

More than half a million people in the UK receive a blood transfusion each year and demand is increasing. Our ageing population, and a stringent donor selection process, mean the supply of blood is limited. 40% fewer new donors came forward last year compared with a decade ago. Recognising these challenges, researchers at the University of Edinburgh have shown the benefits of reducing the use of blood transfusions in intensive care and surgery.

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