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Regulating data travel in the life sciences: the impact of commodification

Leonelli, Sabina (2008) Regulating data travel in the life sciences: the impact of commodification. Working papers on the nature of evidence: how well do 'facts' travel? (27/08). Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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The travel of small facts (such as data) across geographical locations and disciplines is increasingly regulated by the private and public sponsors of digital databases. My analysis focuses on the contrast between the strategies supported by the public and private sectors in governing bioinformatic strategies of data exchange. Up to now, private sponsors have encouraged product-driven competition among database curators and users, which results in the creation of databases whose use and survival is bound to the specific projects in which they are employed. Public sponsors have tended instead to favour resource-driven competition, where databases are seen as resources for all biologists in the long term, irrespectively of the specific context of use. By focusing on this difference and its consequences for the advancement of biomedical research, I show how the ongoing commodification of the life sciences affects the ways in which small facts travel across research contexts. I conclude that the values and methodological criteria currently endorsed by privately sponsored research have a disruptive impact on the ability of researchers to build on each other’s work, an issue that is increasingly recognised both by governmental agencies and by the corporations involved in data production.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2009 15:57
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:45
Projects: Large-Scale Technological Change
Funders:, Economic and Social Research Council

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