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

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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.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22509/1/2708Leonelli.pdf

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