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Data Management

Reasons to share your data

  • Required by publishers (i.e., the Nature Publishing Group, The American naturalist).
  • Required by government funding agencies
  • Allows data to be used to answer new questions
  • Allows science to be more open
  • Makes your papers more useful and citable by other scientists

Where to share your data

You can share your data easily by emailing it to requestors, or posting it to a website, Google, Amazon or Microsoft. However, this method of sharing makes it difficult for people to find your data. Depositing your data in an archive will facilitate its discovery and preservation.

  • Post online via a project or institutional web site
  • Submit data to a journal article
  • Deposit in a discipline specific data repository or archive. Search for an appropriate repository:

    Note: Repository policies vary. Not all repositories listed can ensure long-term preservation of your data. Contact each one for more details.

    • re3data.org - a global registry of research data repositories that covers research data repositories from different academic disciplines. It presents repositories for the permanent storage and access of data sets to researchers, funding bodies, publishers and scholarly institutions.
    • Open Access Directory data repositories wiki

How to share your data

Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights

Sharing data that you produced/collected yourself:

  • Data is not copyrightable (yet a particular expression of data can be, such as a chart or table in a book)
  • Data can be licensed; some data providers apply licenses that limit how the data can be used, such as to protect the privacy of participants in a study or guide downstream uses of the data (e.g., requiring attribution or forbidding for-profit use)
  • If you want to promote sharing and unlimited use of your data, you can make your data available under a Creative Commons Declaration to make this explicit


Confidentiality (Ethical Concerns)

It is vital to maintain the confidentiality of research subjects for reasons of ethics and to ensure the continuing participation in research. Researchers need to understand and manage potential tensions between ethical requirements and other requirements for long-term and permanent retention and for the deposit of data in a repository or archive for the purposes of validating the research and furthering knowledge.

Researchers who wish to ethically share sensitive and confidential data can consider strategies like:

  • Gaining informed consent that includes consent for data sharing (e.g. deposit in a repository or archive). When obtaining informed consent from study participants, ensure confidentiality while also enabling the option of data sharing. Even if you are not certain that you will share your research data with others, you must obtain informed consent at the outset. For an example of how to write informed consent forms to allow for data sharing, see the U.K. Data Archive guide to consent.
  • Protecting privacy through anonymising data
  • Considering controlling access to the data (e.g. through embargoes or access/licensing terms and conditions)