Access and Feeds

Open Data and Research: Building a Culture that Encourages Sharing

By Dick Weisinger

More than ever, researchers are sharing their data with others. That’s good news, but sharing data is a tricky proposition. Many businesses that perform research consider their work proprietary and keep their data private in order to gain an edge in the market. Many scientists worry that publishing their ideas and data will ultimately put them at a disadvantage.

David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund and Physician, said that “you are not going to limit secrecy just by calling on scientists to be altruists. Some will be, of course, but you need to implement processes and methods to make it easier and less costly to share data. You want to make sure their personal interest, that of receiving recognition, and the ethical requirement are aligned.”

Three-quarters of researchers say that they have made their research data publicly available.  About the same number or researchers have accessed data sets contributed by other researchers.  This is according to a report made available by Figshare in “The State of Open Data Report“. Social science researchers are some of the biggest users of Open Data.

Increasingly researchers see the value in receiving citations for their data and feel that data citations are as important as citations for articles, and some even think that data citations can be even more important.  Although because the acceptance and use of Open Data is relative new, there is not yet an accepted best practice for how to cite Open Data sets that are used in research.



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