Wanted: Peer Reviewers on the impact of Open Data

Wanted: Peer Reviewers on the impact of Open Data

Help assess open data’s impacts across the world. Collaborate and share your knowledge by reviewing one or more case studies

By Andrew Young and Stefaan Verhulst

Context:  Recent years have witnessed considerable enthusiasm over open data. Several studies have documented its potential to spur economic innovation and social transformation, and to usher in fresh forms of political and government accountability. Yet for all the enthusiasm, we know little about how open data actually works, and what forms of impact it is really having.

In collaboration with Omidyar Network, the GovLab has conducted 19 detailed case studies of open data projects around the world (full list). The case studies were selected for their sectoral and geographic representativeness. They were built in part from secondary sources (“desk research”), but also from a number of first-hand interviews with important players and key stakeholders. The final versions of the cases and a paper on the key findings from the studies will be published in the new year. Preliminary findings were shared in this earlier post.

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While the kind and level of impact was various, the case studies show that open data can impact people’s lives in multiple ways: improving governance, primarily by making government more accountable and efficient; empowering citizens, by facilitating more informed decision making and enabling new forms of social mobilization; creating new economic opportunities; and helping policymakers and others find solutions to big, previously intractable public problems (e.g., related to public health or global warming).

Need Your Help: Open Peer Review

Open-sourcing review: In the spirit of openness that defines the field under examination, the GovLab is open-sourcing the peer review process of the case studies and key findings paper. Rather than sharing drafts only with a select group of identified stakeholders – i.e., the ‘usual suspects’ – we are making our report and each of the case studies openly accessible for review in the interest of gaining broad input on our findings and collaboratively producing a common resource on open data’s impacts for the field.

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Process: In particular, we are experimenting with a hybrid approach in which we invite individuals to sign-up to become a recognized peer reviewer with early access to the drafts while opening up the process at a later stage to everyone. At such we not only experiment with the way we review reports but we can also understand more about what works best.

  • Recognized Peer Reviewers: We are looking for people with specific expertise on open data in general or as it relates to a given case study to provide more in-depth review and analysis. Are you an expert on education in Mexico or open data to improve citizen decisionmaking? Sign up to review our case study of Mejora Tu Escuela! Do you work in the anti-corruption sector in Indonesia or study the use of data to ensure fair elections? Give us your thoughts on the Kawal Pemilu case study! (see full list of case studies). To sign up to be a Recognized Peer Reviewer, complete this short form to share more about your interest and expertise. Once signed up we will provide you access those case studies that interest you most along with a brief questionnaire. Upon completing the review, your name (and affiliation) will be added to our list of peer reviewers.
  • Open Peer Review: Starting on Monday November 2nd, each of the 19 case studies will be publicly shared in draft form at the Open Data Impact Case Studies Repository (http://odimpact.org). Using the comment function in Google Docs, all interested parties will be able to review and share suggestions, clarifications, notes on potential inaccuracies, or any other useful input to inform the finalization of the cases prior to publishing.
  • The current draft of the Key Findings paper is available for review now on the Open Data Impact Case Studies Repository

Both streams of the open peer review process will conclude on Monday November 30th.

Come and meet us

Open Government Partnership Summit: Representatives from the GovLab, Omidyar Network and a selection of the open data initiatives under examination will share key findings from the impact case studies effort at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Mexico City on October 29th at 10:00am (Palacio de Minería – more information: http://sched.co/4Wo0). If you are attending the Summit and interested in taking part in the peer review, please do not hesitate to reach out to us in Mexico City.