An era of open, transparent, and accessible data from pharmaceutical research holds huge promise and some dangers, a conference organised by the BMJ Group and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry at BMA House in London was told.

Enthusiasts for open data, led by Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, argued at the conference on 23 May that the “enormous cultural shift” that would occur when millions of people could freely access all the research in the world would enhance productivity by what he called “interesting cross pollination.” He was unworried about quality, arguing that market pressure would ensure that the best standards reached by conventional journal based publishing would be retained. “I don’t expect any major tragedies in quality, though it’s something we should keep an eye on,” he said.

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