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Is Open Access

Data Sharing by Scientists: Practices and Perceptions

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      Scientific research in the 21st century is more data intensive and collaborative than in the past. It is important to study the data practices of researchers – data accessibility, discovery, re-use, preservation and, particularly, data sharing. Data sharing is a valuable part of the scientific method allowing for verification of results and extending research from prior results.

      Methodology/Principal Findings

      A total of 1329 scientists participated in this survey exploring current data sharing practices and perceptions of the barriers and enablers of data sharing. Scientists do not make their data electronically available to others for various reasons, including insufficient time and lack of funding. Most respondents are satisfied with their current processes for the initial and short-term parts of the data or research lifecycle (collecting their research data; searching for, describing or cataloging, analyzing, and short-term storage of their data) but are not satisfied with long-term data preservation. Many organizations do not provide support to their researchers for data management both in the short- and long-term. If certain conditions are met (such as formal citation and sharing reprints) respondents agree they are willing to share their data. There are also significant differences and approaches in data management practices based on primary funding agency, subject discipline, age, work focus, and world region.


      Barriers to effective data sharing and preservation are deeply rooted in the practices and culture of the research process as well as the researchers themselves. New mandates for data management plans from NSF and other federal agencies and world-wide attention to the need to share and preserve data could lead to changes. Large scale programs, such as the NSF-sponsored DataNET (including projects like DataONE) will both bring attention and resources to the issue and make it easier for scientists to apply sound data management principles.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 15

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      Empirical Study of Data Sharing by Authors Publishing in PLoS Journals

      Background Many journals now require authors share their data with other investigators, either by depositing the data in a public repository or making it freely available upon request. These policies are explicit, but remain largely untested. We sought to determine how well authors comply with such policies by requesting data from authors who had published in one of two journals with clear data sharing policies. Methods and Findings We requested data from ten investigators who had published in either PLoS Medicine or PLoS Clinical Trials. All responses were carefully documented. In the event that we were refused data, we reminded authors of the journal's data sharing guidelines. If we did not receive a response to our initial request, a second request was made. Following the ten requests for raw data, three investigators did not respond, four authors responded and refused to share their data, two email addresses were no longer valid, and one author requested further details. A reminder of PLoS's explicit requirement that authors share data did not change the reply from the four authors who initially refused. Only one author sent an original data set. Conclusions We received only one of ten raw data sets requested. This suggests that journal policies requiring data sharing do not lead to authors making their data sets available to independent investigators.
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        Data sharing: Empty archives.

         Bryn Nelson (2009)
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          Data Withholding in Academic Genetics


            Author and article information

            [1 ]School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America
            [2 ]University of Tennessee Libraries, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America
            [3 ]Center for Biological Informatics, United States Geological Survey, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States of America
            Science and Technology Facilities Council, United Kingdom
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: CT SA KLD AUA LW ER MM MF. Performed the experiments: CT SA KLD AUA LW ER MM MF. Analyzed the data: CT SA KLD AUA LW ER MM MF. Wrote the paper: CT SA KLD AUA LW ER MM MF.

            Role: Editor
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            29 June 2011
            : 6
            : 6
            Tenopir et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Pages: 21
            Research Article
            Computational Biology
            Biological Data Management
            Text Mining
            Computer Science
            Information Technology
            Science Policy
            Research Assessment
            Publication Practices
            Research Reporting Guidelines
            Research Funding
            Government Funding of Science
            Research Integrity
            Publication Ethics
            Social and Behavioral Sciences
            Information Science
            Information Storage and Retrieval



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