Data Sharing

Many funding agencies and publishers require researchers to make their data available. In most cases, funders no longer accept sharing upon request as a valid option.

Benefits of Sharing Your Data

According to the NIH,
sharing data reinforces open scientific inquiry, encourages diversity of analysis and opinion, promotes new research, makes possible the testing of new or alternative hypotheses and methods of analysis, supports studies on data collection methods and measurement, facilitates the education of new researchers, enables the exploration of topics not envisioned by the initial investigators, and permits the creation of new datasets when data from multiple sources are combined.
Data sharing happens across a spectrum of access, audiences, and security levels. Terms for data sharing differ across research communities. Decisions about sharing data require considering the following issues:
  • What are your ethical and legal obligations? Is there a need for confidentiality, privacy, or other protections?
  • How will the data be accessed and distributed?
  • What data (how much, version, etc.) will you share?
  • What file formats will be used to share the data?
  • What will you allow others to do with the data? (e.g., Creative Commons)
  • How do you want others to give you credit (e.g., data citation)?
  • How long will data be made available?

Ways to Share Data

The most common ways researchers share data:

  • sharing raw data (common for national data centers like NOAA)
  • sharing the data supporting published results
  • sharing limited data sets, or datasets that have had all identifiable information removed
  • sharing anonymized or data with indirect identifiers masked, collapsed, top-coded or other strategies (see ICPSR's guide)
  • providing restricted use data that include identifiable information and require a data use agreement
  • sharing sensitive data in a secure environment, such as a data enclave

Tools for Sharing

Updated Dec 17, 2018 by hcoates