Share and share alike: Top 5 reasons to share your research data!

Recently, there has been an explosion of interest in data sharing: funders, universities and governments have been creating policies and advocating the importance of making data available alongside research publications to validate results and encourage re-use.

If you’re not sharing your data yet, in this blog post I’d like to try and convince you to do so by highlighting some key benefits. I never can resist a countdown, so here’s my…

 …Top 5 Reasons to Share your Research Data!

 5. Because your funder tells you to

data sharing

RCUK released their Common Principles on Data Policy 2011, the European Comission launched a pilot action on open access to research data earlier this year and many other funders (including Wellcome Trust and DfID) also have expectations on their funded researchers to share research data. For a (non-exhaustive) overview of research funders who expect data sharing see: Overview of Funder Requirements (intranet link).

Failure to comply with these policies could result in refusal to fund future research either for yourself or for your institution, so make sure you’re aware of your funder’s requirements.

 4. So you can use your own data again in the future

By preparing your data for sharing with others, you will benefit by being able to identify, retrieve, and understand the data yourself after you have lost familiarity with it, perhaps several years hence.

 3. Because it can improve your reputation as a researcher

Those who make use of your data and cite it in their own research will help to increase your impact within your field and beyond it. Users of your data may include those in other disciplines, sectors, and countries. Furthermore, there is evidence that studies that make their data available receive 9%-30% more citations than those who do not.

 2. To allow verification of results

Making your data available to allow independent verification of results ensures the scientific integrity of your research, thus helping to maintain your reputation.

The have been a number of high profile cases where researchers have falsified results resulting in retraction, loss of credibility and in a few cases, criminal prosecution. Read more about “data massaging” in my post on the DataStories blog.

 1. Because “The coolest thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else” 

kettle lamp

The coolest thing to do with your kettle will be done by someone else! – Kettle Table Lamp – Jonas Merian

(Rufus Pollock, Open Knowledge Foundation)

A favourite quotation of anyone working in Research Data Management, this sums up my number 1 reason to share your research data.

Sharing data can lead to innovation and ground-breaking advances in research, and the more we share, the more innovative we can be. To emphasise this point, here are a few of my favourite examples of success in data sharing:

For more information on sharing data, visit the data sharing pages on the RDM intranet site or email rdm-project@open.ac.uk

About Isabel Chadwick

Research Data Management Librarian at the Open University.
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