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Open Economics: the story so far…

Velichka Dimitrova - August 30, 2013 in Advisory Panel, Announcements, Events, Featured, Open Data, Open Economics, Projects

A year and a half ago we embarked on the Open Economics project with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and we would like a to share a short recap of what we have been up to.

Our goal was to define what open data means for the economics profession and to become a central point of reference for those who wanted to learn what it means to have openness, transparency and open access to data in economics.

Advisory Panel of the Open Economics Working Group:
openeconomics.net/advisory-panel/

Advisory Panel

We brought together an Advisory Panel of twenty senior academics who advised us and provided input on people and projects we needed to contact and issues we needed to tackle. The progress of the project has depended on the valuable support of the Advisory Panel.

1st Open Economics Workshop, Dec 17-18 ’12, Cambridge, UK:
openeconomics.net/workshop-dec-2012/

2nd Open Economics Workshop, 11-12 June ’13, Cambridge, MA:
openeconomics.net/workshop-june-2013

International Workshops

We also organised two international workshops, first one held in Cambridge, UK on 17-18 December 2012 and second one in Cambridge U.S. on 11-12 June 2013, convening academics, funders, data publishers, information professionals and students to share ideas and build an understanding about the value of open data, the still persisting barriers to opening up information, as well as the incentives and structures which our community should encourage.

Open Economics Principles

While defining open data for economics, we also saw the need to issue a statement on the openness of data and code – the Open Economics Principles – to emphasise that data, program code, metadata and instructions, which are necessary to replicate economics research should be open by default. Having been launched in August, this statement is now being widely endorsed by the economics community and most recently by the World Bank’s Data Development Group.

Projects

The Open Economics Working Group and several more involved members have worked on smaller projects to showcase how data can be made available and what tools can be built to encourage discussions and participation as well as wider understanding about economics. We built the award-winning app Yourtopia Italy – http://italia.yourtopia.net/ for a user-defined multidimensional index of social progress, which won a special prize in the Apps4Italy competition.




Yourtopia Italy: application of a user-defined multidimensional index of social progress: italia.yourtopia.net

We created the Failed Bank Tracker, a list and a timeline visualisation of the banks in Europe which failed during the last financial crisis and released the Automated Game Play Datasets, the data and code of papers from the Small Artificial Agents for Virtual Economies research project, implemented by Professor David Levine and Professor Yixin Chen at the Washington University of St. Louis. More recently we launched the Metametrik prototype of a platform for the storage and search of regression results in the economics.


MetaMetrik: a prototype for the storage and search of econometric results: metametrik.openeconomics.net

We also organised several events in London and a topic stream about open knowledge and sustainability at the OKFestival with a panel bringing together a diverse range of panelists from academia, policy and the open data community to discuss how open data and technology can help improve the measurement of social progress.

Blog and Knowledge Base

We blogged about issues like the benefits of open data from the perspective of economics research, the EDaWaX survey of the data availability of economics journals, pre-registration of in the social sciences, crowd-funding as well as open access. We also presented projects like the Statistical Memory of Brazil, Quandl, the AEA randomized controlled trials registry.

Some of the issues we raised had a wider resonance, e.g. when Thomas Herndon found significant errors in trying to replicate the results of Harvard economists Reinhart and Rogoff, we emphasised that while such errors may happen, it is a greater crime not to make the data available with published research in order to allow for replication.

Some outcomes and expectations

We found that opening up data in economics may be a difficult matter, as many economists utilise data which cannot be open because of privacy, confidentiality or because they don’t own that data. Sometimes there are insufficient incentives to disclose data and code. Many economists spend a lot of resources in order to build their datasets and obtain an advantage over other researchers by making use of information rents.

Some journals have been leading the way in putting in place data availability requirements and funders have been demanding data management and sharing plans, yet more general implementation and enforcement is still lacking. There are now, however, more tools and platforms available where researchers can store and share their research content, including data and code.

There are also great benefits in sharing economics data: it enables the scrutiny of research findings and gives a possibility to replicate research, it enhances the visibility of research and promotes new uses of the data, avoids unnecessary costs for data collection, etc.

In the future we hope to concentrate on projects which would involve graduate students and early career professionals, a generation of economics researchers for whom sharing data and code may become more natural.

Keep in touch

Follow us on Twitter @okfnecon, sign up to the Open Economics mailing list and browse our projects and resources at openeconomics.net.

Securing the Knowledge Foundations of Innovation

Velichka Dimitrova - May 15, 2013 in Advisory Panel, Featured, Open Access, Open Data, Open Research

Last month, Paul David, professor of Economics at Stanford University, Senior Fellow of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) and a member of the Advisory Panel delivered a keynote presentation at the International Seminar of the PROPICE in Paris.

Professor David expresses concern that the increased use of intellectual property rights (IPR) protections “has posed problems for open collaborative scientific research” and that the IPR regime has been used by businesses e.g. to “raise commercial rivals’ costs”, where empirical evidence shows has shown that business innovation is “is being inhibited by patent thickets”.

In describing the anti-commons issue, professor David also pointed out that research databases are likely sites for problems and emphasised the importance of protecting the future open access to critical data.

Also, high quality data would be very costly, where “…strengthening researchers’ incentives to create transparent, fully documented and dynamically annotated datasets to be used by others remains an insufficiently addressed problem”.

Read the whole presentation below:


Joshua Gans Joining the Advisory Panel of the Working Group

Velichka Dimitrova - February 14, 2013 in Advisory Panel, Contribution Economy, Featured, Open Access, Open Data, Open Economics

We are happy to welcome Joshua Gans in the Advisory Panel of the Open Economics Working Group.

Joshua Gans

Joshua Gans is a Professor of Strategic Management and holder of the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (with a cross appointment in the Department of Economics). Prior to 2011, he was the foundation Professor of Management (Information Economics) at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne and prior to that he was at the School of Economics, University of New South Wales. In 2011, Joshua was a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research (New England). Joshua holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and an honors degree in economics from the University of Queensland. In 2012, Joshua was appointed as a Research Associate of the NBER in the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.

At Rotman, he teaches MBA and Commerce students Network and Digital Market Strategy. Most recently, he has written an eBook, Information Wants to be Shared (Harvard Business Review Press). While Joshua’s research interests are varied he has developed specialities in the nature of technological competition and innovation, economic growth, publishing economics, industrial organisation and regulatory economics. In 2007, Joshua was awarded the Economic Society of Australia’s Young Economist Award. In 2008, Joshua was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Australia. Details of his research activities can be found here. In 2011, Joshua (along with Fiona Murray of MIT) received a grant for almost $1 million from the Sloan Foundation to explore the Economics of Knowledge Contribution and Distribution.