We are delighted to announce that the Open Knowledge Foundation in partnership with the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge has received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for the development of an Open Economics Working Group. The aim of the working group is to encourage more active and efficient collaboration between scholars and the dissemination of economic results to the wider society (see below for more on what we will be doing).

“Open datasets have the potential to revolutionize economics as a discipline and accelerate breakthroughs in the field,” says Daniel L. Goroff, Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Support for the Open Knowledge Foundation’s work will not only help advance empirical research by academics, but also improve everyone’s understanding of important economic processes and trends.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

What will the Working Group be doing?

The Working Group aims to help in the development of a self-identifying and self-sustaining community of economic researchers working with open data and standards in economics. It will also assist in the creation and development of several concrete projects to accelerate open academic research and open data. The project is also expected to provide new knowledge on how to strengthen cooperation on open data between the government, academia and civil society. Specifically, we will:

  • Organise two international academic workshops on open economic data, one in the US and one in the UK
  • Maintain a website containing:
    • Documentation and guidance on legal and technical best practices for publishing economic data
    • Regular blog posts about open economic data from a variety of invited contributors
    • Information about best of breed tools for working with economic data
  • Provide a platform for sharing of economic data hosted at theDataHub.org
  • Incubate demonstrator projects such as a project for a machine-readable format for reporting regression results making easier to find and compare results
  • Organise hackdays and other events bringing together people with different background and skills to work on project for presenting economic data to the general public.

Why does the Working Group exist?

Today, we have available the technologies and legal mechanisms to open up an unprecedented amount of information relevant to understanding economies and markets. In opening up economic data we enable it to be freely combined and redistributed with other sources of information, leading to the emergence of a richer ecosystem of information sharing and a greater ability to combine this material with the increasingly sophisticated tools for representation, visualization and analysis that are available. These developments would benefit both expert economists and the wider general public interested in economic issues.

However currently many individuals and organisations involved in publishing economic data are not making their data explicitly open and are not aware of the benefits of doing so. Moreover, now more than ever, it is imperative for us to gain a better shared picture of economies and markets around the globe, to inform policies aimed at economic recovery, to make economic decisions more transparent, and to make decision makers more accountable. From understanding the roots of the financial crisis to the impact of patents on innovation to the effectiveness of international development funding, sharing economic data more effectively is the first step towards better policies, and more collaborative research around major international problems.

Get Involved

If you are interested in getting involved:

  • Visit our Website
  • Sign up to our Mailing List
  • Attend the regular Working Group meeting: next forthcoming date: March 14, 6pm GMT
  • Follow us on Twitter: @OKFNecon and use the general hashtag: #openecon
  • Get in touch: contact the Working Group coordinator Velichka Dimitrova: velichka.dimitrova [at] okfn.org.
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Velichka is Project Coordinator of Open Economics at the Open Knowledge Foundation. She is based in London, a graduate of economics (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and environmental policy (University of Cambridge) and a fellow of the Heinrich Böll Foundation @vndimitrova

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