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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly - Protecting Yourself, Your Research, and Your University

4.2 Research data access and sharing

Making research data available to others has many benefits for researchers. Some of the benefits include:

  • greater exposure of research which may be useful for obtaining grants or getting published
  • increasing citations of your published work
  • greater opportunities for research collaboration across disciplines and with international researchers.

The authors of one study have established that publicly available data was significantly associated with a 69% increase in citations, independently of journal impact factor, date of publication, and author's country of origin (Piwowar, H.A., Day, R.S. and Fridsma, D.B. (2007). Sharing detailed research data is associated with increased citation rate. PLoS ONE 2(3): e308. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000308).

In addition to the personal benefits that data sharing may bring, researchers and institutions are also required to make data available to others. From a funding body perspective, Section 2, clause 2.5.2 of the Code states “research data should be made available for use by other researchers unless this is prevented by ethical, privacy, or confidentiality matters”. Furthermore, funding agreements from the ARC require researchers, where possible, to make data publicly available within a specified time frame, generally through deposit in an institutional or discipline-specific public repository. Some journals also require researchers to make the data used in the publication available to interested persons, for example, the Nature Publishing Group requires authors to “make materials, data and associated protocols promptly available to readers” (http://www.nature.com/authors/policies/availability.html).

Before sharing data during a project or after it is finished, you need to make sure that you have considered the implications of doing so, in terms of data and IP ownership, and ethical requirements like privacy and confidentiality.

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