- Some funding organisations have adopted data sharing policies that encourage or oblige researchers to share research datasets, findings and outputs, in order to facilitate the validation of results and further work by other researchers.
- Researchers should have a plan for how and when their research data can be shared (if indeed it can be), what might limit or prohibit data sharing, and what can be done to enable other researchers to correctly cite data where it has been made available
- There are different ways to share data – by depositing in an archive/repository (best for long-term preservation); submitting to a journal alongside an article as ‘supplementary data’; depositing in an institutional repository (Oxford is currently piloting Databank); sharing via a project website or peer-to-peer (these last two options are least likely to facilitate long-term preservation)
Sharing your data:
- can help you build your academic track record: sharing data can facilitate its rediscovery and its preservation as technology becomes obsolete – many studies have shown a correlation between open access to copies of published articles and citation impact – see for example Sharing detailed research data is associated with increased citation rate: Piowar, et al (2007)
- enables that data to be validated and tested, improving the scientific record.
- meets funding body requirements obliging awardholders to share their data to avoid duplication of effort and to cut costs.
- is in the public interest, where research data has been publicly funded – in line with the OECD principles and guidelines for access to research data from public funding (pdf – right click to save)
- means that data can be reused for scientific and educational purposes.
You may have reasons for wanting to restrict public access to your research data:
- You intend to make a patent application, and must avoid prior disclosure. Seek advice before sharing from Isis Innovation.
- your research data includes confidential human patient data – see the Ethical & Legal issues pages for more information.
- your research data are confidential because of the arrangement your research group has made with the commercial partner sponsoring your research.
Often, sensitive and confidential data can be shared ethically if informed consent for data sharing has been given, or by anonymising research data. See the UK Data Archive’s Consent & Ethics pages for more information and advice.
- As a researcher, you should clarify ownership of and rights relating to research data before a project starts. Data which include multiple copyright layers or rights owners cannot be shared unless permission for data sharing has been given by all copyright/rights holders.
- In some cases academic or commercial collaborators may have intellectual property rights in research outputs. Normally there are consortium agreements or legal contracts associated with such collaborations. Further information about IP in the context of agreements is available: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/researchsupport/ip/commonterms/ or contact the IP team within Research Services.
- There may be copyright restrictions in making an article and the underlying data freely available. The University of Nottingham’s Sherpa RoMEO service lists publishers and their associated copyright agreements. Use the RoMEO service to search for a publisher, or a particular journal, to see what rights are assigned to publishers and which are retained by the author.
- If you are sharing your data, clear guidance from you the researcher (eg. a license) on what re-users can do with your data helps clarify some of the ambiguities and complexities surrounding the rights associated with that data.
- Consider licensing under a Creative Commons Open Data CC Zero public domain dedication and waiver, if your research data are not covered by copyright.
- Consider licensing using a Creative Commons Attribution License, if your image data are covered by copyright, for example.
A way to ensure your data can be cited, (whether by someone else or by you), to track usage and to ensure any data citations are added to journal citations is to give your data a ‘Digital Object Identifier‘ (DOI). Giving your data a DOI:
- means that usage of your data can be followed as others use and cite your data
- makes the data uniquely identifiable.
- means you will always be identified as the creator of the data.
- means your data can always be located with a simple web search.
DataCite is an international organization (http://datacite.org/) that issues Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for datasets.