The RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology in Japan have just released RefDic, “an open-access database of quantitative mRNA/Protein profiles specifically for immune cells”:

A prepublication epub has been posted on pubmeb giving more information entitled Construction of an open-access database that integrates cross-reference information from the transcriptome and proteome of immune cells and we’ve also created a CKAN pacakge page for RefDIC.

While its great that the creators of RefDIC have made it available like this, as noted on the CKAN page, RefDIC isn’t actually fully open (or open-access) despite its claims. For example, its faq states:

Is all of the data in this database available for free?

Yes. All of the data in RefDIC is freely available as long as it is not used for commercial purposes. If you belong to a commercial entitiy, please contact us.

This restriction on commercial usage violates the “No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor” clause (no. eight) of the open knowledge definition and is also incompatible with the “Budapest-Bethseda-Berlin” definition of open access which requires free access for all — though whether free commercial reuse is required by BBB is unclear. (The use of the term ‘open access’ here is also a little unusual since open access has tended to focus on copyrightable material in general, and scholarly publications in particular. Here, by contrast, the material being made available is a database.)

Nevertheless its good to see people starting to putting data out there like this and we hope to see more like it.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.