+1 Recommend
1 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Data sharing in low-resourced research environments

      a , a , b
      Pluto Journals


            ‘Open data’ has recently emerged as a label for renewed attempts to promote scientific exchange. As part of such efforts, the posting of data online is often portrayed as commonly beneficial: individual scientists accrue greater prominence while at the same time fostering communal knowledge. Yet, how scientists in non-Western research settings assess such calls for openness has been the subject of little empirical study. Based on extended fieldwork with biochemistry laboratories in sub-Sahara Africa, this paper examines a variety of reasons why scientists opt for closure over openness with regard to their own data. We argue that the heterogeneity of research environments calls into question many of the presumptions made as part of open data. Inequalities in research environments can mean that moves towards sharing create binds and dilemmas. These observations suggest that those promoting openness must critically examine current research governance and funding systems that continue to perpetuate disparities. The paper proposes an innovative approach to facilitating openness: coupling the sharing of data with enabling scientists to redress their day-to-day research environment demands. Such a starting basis provides an alternative but vital link between the aspirations for science aired today as part of international discussions and the daily challenges of undertaking research in low-resourced environments.


            Author and article information

            Pluto Journals
            1 September 2016
            : 34
            : 3-4 ( doiID: 10.1080/prometheus.34.issue-3-4 )
            : 207-224
            B.Rappert@ 123456exeter.ac.uk
            [ a ]Department of Sociology, Philosophy, and Anthropology, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
            [ b ]Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
            © 2016 Pluto Journals

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

            Custom metadata

            Computer science,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Law,History,Economics


            1. Alter, G. and Vardigan, M. (2015) ‘Addressing global data sharing challenges’, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 10, 3, pp.317-23.

            2. Ankeny, R. and Leonelli, S. (2015) ‘Valuing data in postgenomic biology: how data donation and curation practices challenge the scientific publication system’ in Richardson, S. and Stevens, H. (eds) Postgenomics, Duke University Press, Durham NC, pp.126-49.

            3. Barry, J. (2012) ‘Microfinance, the market and political development in the internet age’, Third World Quarterly, 33, 1, pp.125-41.

            4. Bezuidenhout, L., Leonelli, S., Kelly, A. and Rappert, B. (2016) ‘“$100 is not much to you”: open access and neglected accessibilities for data-driven science in Africa’, Critical Public Health, 27, 1, pp.39-49.

            5. Borgman, C. (2012) ‘The conundrum of sharing research data’, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63, 6, pp.1059-78.

            6. Bull, S., Cheah, P., Denny, S., Jao, I., Marsh, V., Merson, L., Shah More, N., Nhan, L., Osrin, D., Tangseefa, D., Wassenaar, D. and Parker, M. (2015a) ‘Best practices for ethical sharing of individual-level health research data from low- and middle-income settings’, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 10, 3, pp.302-13.

            7. Bull, S., Roberts, N. and Parker, M. (2015b) ‘Views of ethical best practices in sharing individual-level data from medical and public health research: a systematic scoping review’, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 10, 3, pp.225-38.

            8. Carr, D. and Littler, K. (2015) ‘Sharing research data to improve public health: a funder perspective’, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 10, 3, pp.314-16.

            9. CODATA (1997) Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data, National Academies Press, Washington DC.

            10. CODATA (2014) Data Sharing Principles in Developing Countries (The Nairobi Data Sharing Principles), report from CODATA Workshop on Open Data for Science and Sustainability in Developing Countries, August, Nairobi, available from https://www.rd-alliance.org/sites/default/files/attachment/NairobiDataSharingPrinciples.pdf [accessed January 2017].

            11. de Vries, J., Bull, S., Doumbo, O., Ibrahim, M., Mercereau-Puijalon, O., Kwiatkowski, D. and Parker, M. (2011) ‘Ethical issues in human genomics research in developing countries’, BMC Medical Ethics, 12, 1, p.5.

            12. de Vries, J., Tindana, P., Littler, K., Ramsay, M., Rotimi, C., Abayomi, A., Mulder, N. and Mayosi, B. (2015) ‘The H3Africa policy framework: negotiating fairness in genomics’, Trends in Genetics, 31, 3, pp.117-19.

            13. European Commission (2011) Open Data: An Engine for Innovation, Growth and Transparent Governance, COM (2011) 882 final, Brussels, available from http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0882:FIN:EN:PDF [accessed January 2017].

            14. European Science Foundation (2008) Sharing Responsibilities in Sharing Research Data: Policies and Partnerships, report of an ESF-DFG workshop, September 2007, Padua, Italy, available from http://archives.esf.org/fileadmin/Public_documents/Publications/SharingData_01.pdf [accessed January 2017].

            15. Fecher, B., Friesike, S. and Hebing, M. (2015a) ‘What drives academic data sharing?‘, PLoS ONE, 10, e0118053, available from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/paper?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118053 [accessed January 2017].

            16. Fecher, B., Friesike, S., Hebing, M., Linek, S. and Sauermann, A. (2015b) A Reputation Economy: Results from an Empirical Survey on Academic Data Sharing, discussion paper, February, German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin, available from http://www.hiig.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/dp1454.pdf [accessed January 2017].

            17. Ferguson, L. (2014) ‘How and why researchers share data (and why they don't)‘, Wiley Exchanges, available from http://exchanges.wiley.com/blog/2014/11/03/how-and-why-researchers-share-data-and-why-they-dont/ [accessed January 2016].

            18. Hagstrom, W. (1965) The Scientific Community, Basic Books, New York.

            19. Hayden, C. (2010) ‘The proper copy: insides and outsides of domains made public’, Journal of Cultural Economy, 3, 1, pp.85-102.

            20. Hessels, L. and van Lente, H. (2011) ‘Practical applications as a source of credibility’, Minerva, 49, 2, pp.215-40.

            21. Hessels, L., van Lente, H. and Smits, R. (2009) ‘In search of relevance’, Science and Public Policy, 36, 5, pp.387-401.

            22. International Council for Science (2015) Open Data in a Big Data World, ICSU, Paris.

            23. Kelly, A. and Geissler, P. (2012) The Value of Transnational Research: Labour, Participation and Care, Routledge, London.

            24. Lamberton, D. (2001) ‘An information infrastructure for development’, Prometheus, 19, 3, pp.223-30.

            25. Latour, B. and Woolgar, S. (1979) Laboratory Life, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ.

            26. Leisyte, L., Enders, J. and de Boer, H. (2008) ‘The freedom to set research agendas – illusion and reality of the research units in the Dutch universities’, Higher Education Policy, 21, 3, pp.377-91.

            27. Leonelli, S. (2012) ‘When humans are the exception: cross-species databases at the interface of biological and clinical research’, Social Studies of Science, 42, 2, pp.214-36.

            28. Leonelli, S. (2013) ‘Why the current insistence on open access to scientific data? Big data, knowledge production, and the political economy of contemporary biology’, Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, 33, 1-2, pp.6-11.

            29. Leonelli, S., Spichtinger, D. and Prainsack, B. (2013) ‘Sticks AND carrots: incentives for a meaningful implementation of OS guidelines’, Geo: Geography and Environment, 2, 1, pp.12-15.

            30. Macdonald, S. (1998) Information for Innovation: Managing Change from an Information Perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

            31. Mahmuda, I., Baskaran, A. and Pancholi, J. (2014) ‘Financing social innovation for poverty reduction: a case study of microfinancing and microenterprise development in Bangladesh’, Science, Technology & Society, 19, 2, pp.249-73.

            32. Mauthner, N. and Parry, O. (2013) ‘Open access digital data sharing: principles, policies and practices’, Social Epistemology, 27, 1, pp.47-67.

            33. OECD (2007) OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding, OECD, Paris.

            34. OECD (2015) Making Open Data a Reality, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Paper 25, OECD, Paris.

            35. Olmos-Peñuela, J., Benneworth, P. and Castro-Martınez, E. (2015) ‘What stimulates researchers to make their research usable? Towards an “openness” approach’, Minerva, 53, 4, pp.381-410.

            36. Open Knowledge International (2016) Open Definition 2.0, available from http://opendefinition.org/od/2.0/en/ [accessed September 2016].

            37. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, B. (2006) ‘Systems of innovation and underdevelopment’, Science, Technology and Society, 11, 2, pp.239-69.

            38. Packer, K. and Webster, A. (1996) ‘Patenting culture in science: reinventing the scientific wheel of credibility’, Science, Technology, & Human Values, 21, 4, pp.427-53.

            39. Parker, M. and Bull, S. (2015) ‘Sharing public health research data: toward the development of ethical data-sharing practice in low- and middle-income settings’, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 10, 3, pp.217-24.

            40. Pisani, E. and Abou-Zahr, C. (2010) ‘Sharing health data: good intentions are not enough’, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 88, 6, pp.462-66.

            41. Pisani, E., Whitworth, J., Zaba, B. and Abou-Zahr, C. (2010) ‘Time for fair trade in research data’, Lancet, 375, 9716, pp.703-5.

            42. RCUK (2013) RCUK Policy on Open Access and Supporting Guidance, Research Councils UK, London.

            43. Research Information Network (2009) Patterns of Information Use and Exchange: Case Studies of Researchers in the Life Sciences, Research Information Network/British Library, London.

            44. RIN/NESTA (2010) Open to All? Case Studies of Openness in Research, Research Information Network and National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, London.

            45. Rip, A. (1994) ‘The republic of science in the 1990s’, Higher Education, 28, 1, pp.3-23.

            46. Royal Society (2012) Science as an Open Enterprise, The Royal Society, London.

            47. Tangcharoensathien, V., Boonperm, J. and Jongudomsuk, P. (2010) ‘Sharing health data: developing country perspectives’, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 88, 6, pp.468-69.

            48. Tenopir, C., Allard, S., Douglass, K., Aydinoglu, A., Wu, L., Read, E., Manoff, M. and Frame, M. (2011) ‘Data sharing by scientists: practices and perceptions’, PLoS ONE, 6, 6, pp.1-21.

            49. Wessels, B., Finn, R., Linde, P., Mazzetti, P., Nativi, S., Riley, S., Smallwood, R., Taylor, M., Tsoukala, V., Wadhwa, K. and Wyatt, S. (2014) ‘Issues in the development of open access to research data’, Prometheus, 32, 1, pp.49-66.

            50. Zeitlyn, D. (2003) ‘Gift economies in the development of open source software: anthropological reflections’, Research Policy, 32, 7, pp.1287-91.


            Comment on this article