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Researcher Central: Tools and information to help PIs succeed

Data Sharing

Why share data?

  • To fulfill funder and journal requirements. Grant funders and (in some disciplines) journals may require data sharing.
  • To raise interest in publications. A study published on PLoS ONE found a 69% increase in citations for articles whose associated data were available online.
  • To establish priority. Data posted online can be timestamped to establish the date they were produced, blocking “scooping” tactics.
  • To speed research. Particularly in complex fields, data sharing can accelerate discovery rates, as researchers into Alzheimer’s disease discovered (New York Times article).

Before sharing, consider:

  • Do your data contain confidential or private personal information? If you anonymize, can individuals in the dataset be reidentified (see SSRN article)?
  • Are your datasets understandable to those who wish to use them? Have you included all the metadata, methodology descriptions, codebooks, data dictionaries, and other descriptive material that someone looking at the dataset for the first time would need?
  • Do your datasets comply with description, format, metadata, and sharing standards in your field?
  • What reuse policies do you wish for your data? Consider the Panton Principles carefully before you attach reuse restrictions.

What are my data-sharing options?

Depending on your retention and sharing needs, there are several sharing options available.

Sharing Method Useful if… Be aware…
Direct share via e-mail or pantherFILE
  • You have a relatively small amount of data.
  • You have very specialized data which does not easily fit in a discrete category.
  • You will need to include contact information in the related journal article to allow researchers to request your data. 
  • Exposure of your data to the larger community will be very limited.
  • You have data described in discrete files and common formats.
  • You have more data than you have space to retain on your personal computer or departmental space.
  • You will need to include a link to your collection to allow researchers to find your data.
  • Not a secure environment—sensitive data may be at risk.
As supplementary materials in an appropriate journal
  • You are interested in making your data available to a specific audience.
  • Not all journals will store your data—be aware of relevant journals’ policies.
  • Journals that store your data may not be willing or able to retain it long term.
In a subject-specific data repository (see list maintained by Purdue University)
  • You have a large amount of data that needs to be shared.
  • You are interested in making your data widely available.
  • Repositories may not retain your data for the long term.
  • Data sets that do not fit into discrete disciplines may not be accepted for inclusion.

Page last updated on: 01/29/2014