Discussions on open access and open science, which have an increasing impact on academic publishing, also bring along the issue of data sharing. Data sharing, which means making research data available on public platforms and accessible to other researchers, is of great importance in terms of transparency and reproducibility in science.
Data sharing, which was previously not preferred by researchers or refrained with the idea that their research will be scooped, has now become compulsory by some funders and journals. The fact that research data is considered as public good suggests that the data should be accessible and reusable (1).
In this context, funders such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and National Institutes of Health have made sharing of research data a requirement by adding data sharing criteria to their open access policies (2-4). On the other hand, journals such as PLOS and BMJ have adopted policies that make data sharing an obligation (5, 6).
Benefits of Data Sharing
Sharing research data provides many benefits for researchers, funders, and the academic community.
- Data sharing increases public trust in science by contributing transparency (7).
- Data sharing provides cooperation between researchers and the reproducibility and validation of data (8).
- It increases the citation potential of the articles (9).
- It maximizes the investment return of the funders and decreases the cost and the effort of the collection of the same data (10).
- It increases the visibility and the overall impact of research (10).
The Approach of International Guidelines
International guides such as the International Committee of Medical Editors (ICMJE), Committee on Publications Ethics (COPE), and European Association of Science Editors (EASE) encourage data sharing in terms of transparency and accessibility (7, 11, 12). ICMJE made a declaration that clinical trials must contain a data sharing statement as of July 1st, 2018 (13). Data sharing policy, which is required during the clinical trial registration, does not entail researchers to share their data. However, it makes determining a data sharing policy for researches a requirement. In other words, researchers should decide how to manage their data before the registration of a clinical trial. It is of great importance that authors should consider the requirements of funders and institutions as well as the recommendations of the international guidelines in terms of data management in their research plan.
Data Sharing Practice
Researchers who decide to share their research data should upload the data to suitable platforms by following the instructions of the funders they receive a grant from or the target journal they want to submit their research to. There are some interdisciplinary data sharing platforms such as Figshare, Harvard Dataverse Network, Kaggle, and Zenodo along with the research area specific ones like PubChem, OpenNeuro, and Qualitative Daha Repository. Additionally, researchers may consider data sharing platforms according to the suggestions of their funders (14).
Permissions have a significant place in data sharing management. While sharing the data, it is essential to determine a proper license in the way that the researches want to permit the reuse of the data or to choose a platform suitable for that license (15). In this context, researchers should also consider the permission requirements of their funders or their institutions.
The discussions on this subject include the authors' reservations about sharing research data. Researchers do not want to share the data on the grounds that their data may be misunderstood, copied by others, or they do not know who owns the data. Although the misunderstanding of the data does not bring any responsibility to the authors, the use of the research without reference should be considered within the scope of plagiarism (15, 16).
Taking everything into account, it is an undeniable fact that the sharing of research data is of great importance, especially in terms of making scientific development more transparent, faster, and accessible. Although some concerns of the researchers are justified, data sharing has become an issue that every researcher should be aware of because some funders and journals require, and international guidelines encourage open data. Therefore, researchers should be sensitive about this issue and adopt the recommendations and the policies on data sharing for the sake of scientific development.
Gizem Kayan Tekaüt
1. OECD (2007). OECD principles and guidelines for access to research data from public funding.
2. Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation (2015). Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Open Access Policy.
3. Wellcome Trust (2018). Sharing clinical trial data: what it means for you.
4. NIH Data Sharing Policy
5. PLOS ONE (2019). Data Availability. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020.
6. BMJ. Data Sharing. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020.
7. EASE (2016). EASE Statement on Data Sharing. Erişim tarihi: 7 Mayıs 2020.
8. Harvard University. Benefits of Sharing Data. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020.
9. Astell M. Benefits of data sharing for you. Springer Nature. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020
10. Coursera. (2019). Benefits of sharing, Research data management and sharing [Çevrimiçi ders videosu].
11.Taichman DB, Sahni P, Pinborg A, et al. Data Sharing Statements for Clinical Trials: A Requirement of the njaInternational Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Ann Intern Med 2017; 167: 63-65.
12. COPE Forum (2016). Data Sharing. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020.
13. ICMJE. Clinical Trials. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020.
14. NIH. Open Domain-Specific Data Sharing Repositories. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020.
15. Doğan G. ULAKBİM Açık Veri - Veri Paylaşım İzinlerinin Planlanması. Accessed on 7 Mayıs 2020.
16. Horton, L. (2016). Responses to common objections towards sharing research data. LSE Library Services.