"-Omics" systems sciences are at the epicenter of personalized medicine and public health, and drivers of knowledge-based biotechnology innovation. Bioinformatics, a core component of omics research, is one of the disciplines that first employed Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS), and thus provided a fertile ground for its further development. Understanding the use and characteristics of FLOSS deployed in the omics field is valuable for future innovation strategies, policy and funding priorities. We conducted a bibliometric, longitudinal study of the use of FLOSS in sepsis omics research from 2011 to 2015 in the United States, EU-28 and China. Because sepsis is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of multiple omics technologies and medical specialties, it was chosen as a model innovation ecosystem for this empirical analysis, which used publicly available data. Despite development of and competition from proprietary commercial software, scholars in omics continue to employ FLOSS routinely, and independent of the type of omics technology they work with. The number of articles using FLOSS increased significantly over time in the EU-28, as opposed to the United States and China (R = 0.96, p = 0.004). Furthermore, in an era where sharing of knowledge is being strongly advocated and promoted by public agencies and social institutions, we discuss possible correlations between the use of FLOSS and various funding sources in omics research. These observations and analyses provide new insights into the use of FLOSS in sepsis omics research across three (supra)national regions. Further benchmarking studies are warranted for FLOSS trends in other omics fields and geographical settings. These could, in time, lead to the development of new composite innovation and technology use metrics in omics systems sciences and bioinformatics communities.
- Journal Article