Sharing data makes it possible for researchers to conduct synthetic and comparative studies, to validate research results, and to reuse data for teaching and further research. Furthermore, sharing can increase the impact of research (Piwowar, 2007). Sharing is also required by an increasing number of funders and publishers. Funders seek to maximize the impact of the research they fund by encouraging or requiring data sharing. Publishers seek to ensure the research they publish is reproducible, and that sufficient information is included for the scholarly record.
Data sharing encompasses all strategies by which an investigator might make her data available to a broader audience, including:
While there are many strategies for sharing, researchers should submit data to an established data system or repository whenever possible. Depositing to an established repository will help to ensure that data are consistently available and accessible, and preserved for future use. While personal or lab websites, electronic lab notebooks (ELNs), wikis, and similar tools may be sufficient for short term sharing, they are usually not great choices for the long term. The best solution will ensure that data is discoverable, accessible, and preserved over the long term. Contact Jeffrey Mortimore, Discovery Services Librarian, for help selecting an appropriate repository or another strategy for sharing your data.
Repository policies vary; confer with potential repositories or publishers to determine:
In order to identify the best repository for your data, researchers may:
Intellectual property issues related to research data are complex. Ownership of data may rest with the researcher, the institution, or the funder, depending on the nature of the researcher's appointment, grant contract conditions, and whether there are patent implications. Consult the Special Considerations section of our Guide to Data Management Planning for more help explaining circumstances that prevent data sharing in a data management plan.
Conditions for Reuse
Private and Confidential Data, or Data with Commercial Implications
Researchers may have ethical or legal obligations to maintain confidentiality and to protect the privacy of research subjects, or may have other circumstances requiring secure data storage or restricted access to data, such as licensing restrictions that prohibit data sharing. Data may also be part of a research project with commercialization potential. Funders and publishers recognize that there are legitimate circumstances under which an investigator cannot share their data, and a data management plan should explain those circumstances.
Sharing detailed research data is associated with increased citation rate. Heather A. Piwowar, Roger S. Day, Douglas D. Fridsma. PLoS ONE 2(3): e308. 2007. https://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000308.