As Isaac Newton wrote to Robert Hooke in 1675: “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The Symbiont Awards seek to honor modern giants. Traditionally, data sharing was challenging and expensive, so research proceeded by sharing completed findings. Our culture in science and medicine has been built on the value of completed stories.
However, with the rise of networked computers, sharing complex datasets is increasingly feasible. Once data are shared, anyone can make discoveries from these data. This is good, at least in the short term, for research. Discoveries arrive sooner, and patients benefit more quickly. Discoveries are also more likely to emerge when they are still meaningful, before new discoveries have rendered them less useful. But to avoid harm in the long term, we need to make sure that incentives are aligned to guarantee that generating novel and interesting datasets remains rewarded.
We envision a future in which widespread sharing of research data benefits all. We expect the biggest winners will be those who share and share well, and in doing so, create the most value. However, until that time comes, the Symbiont Awards seek to recognize these individuals and their contributions.
Symbiosis denotes a long-term interaction between two different species. The interaction may be beneficial to both or may impose a cost on a member of the interaction. Data sharing may impose a cost on the individual sharing, or it may provide benefits.
The Symbiont Awards, given annually, recognize exemplars in the practice of data sharing. We expect data sharing to play a key role in the scientific ecosystem. Some of the goals supported by data sharing include:
The Symbiont Awards currently consist of two awards: the first recognizes an outstanding contribution from any research area at any level. The second seeks to recognize the sharing of data relevant to health by an individual at the training stage of their career - ideally a trainee with clinical responsibilities.
We encourage readers to broadly share this call, and we strongly encourage members of groups that are underrepresented in scientific communities to apply for this award.
Applications for the 2018 Research Symbiont Awards must be received by September 30, 2017 at 5PM HST (Hawaii Standard Time) at TBD. An application's specific content is TBD.
The committee has sole responsibility for determining the recipient of the parasite awards. As discussed in the conflict of interest rules, the committee and individual members are unable to comment on any unselected nominations.
In the event that a committee member has a relationship described in rule 7 with one or more nominees, s/he should disclose that relationship to the other committee members and describe the nature of the relationship(s). The other committee members should then decide (without the conflicted committee member) whether the conflict is adequately mitigated by disclosure. In the event that a majority of the other committee members believes the conflict is not adequately mitigated by disclosure, the following procedure should be followed: (1) The conflicted committee member may not participate in the discussion of the conflicted nominee; (2) If the non-conflicted committee members feel a conflicted nominee should be an awardee, then those committee members should send a written description of the conflict and the rationale for their decision to the PSB co-chairs; (3) if a majority of the PSB co-chairs believe the decision has been improperly biased by the conflict, the conflicted nominee cannot be the award winner, and the committee will be tasked with selecting a different awardee.