The accord Open Data in a Big Data World has been produced by representative bodies of global science collaborating as Science International (see go.nature.com/tpq3tu). It sets out the principles for maximizing benefit from the digital data revolution in shaping the future conduct of science.
Openness is the bedrock for benefit. Whole science systems, not merely the habits of researchers, need to adapt. It will be necessary for public funders of research to fund open-data management, for publishers to ensure that open data are deposited concurrently with the publication of derived scientific claims, for disciplinary societies to debate how their disciplines should adapt, and for universities to create incentives and support for open-data processes.
The accord recognizes potential pathologies: that the data deluge could overwhelm the open scrutiny of scientific claims, and that a countervailing trend towards privatization of knowledge could be at odds with the ethos of scientific inquiry and our need to use ideas freely.
It is crucial that standards of reproducibility are re-established for a data-rich age, and that the global scientific community commits to “intelligently open” science (see go.nature.com/dvgdfo). Digital technologies also provide a route to open science and open knowledge, where all sectors of society are involved in the co-design and co-production of actionable knowledge.