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:
deposit to a discipline-specific data center (see re3data for a searchable list of repositories)
deposit to Digital Commons @ Georgia Southern
submission to a journal publisher in conjunction with a related publication
publication in a data journal
independently-developed infrastructure for data distribution
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:
that they will accept the data
requirements for submission
long-term preservation policy
whether there are any fees associated with deposit
In order to identify the best repository for your data, researchers may:
consult with Jeffrey Mortimore, Discovery Services Librarian, to identify services, data centers, and repositories with which to publish data
locate an external service by consulting re3data, an online catalog of research data repositories
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.
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.