Data sharing is increasingly viewed as an essential step in improving research transparency and reproducibility (Taichman et al, 2016; Vickers, 2006). There has been a lot of discussion on the imperative for data sharing in the biomedical arena, particularly of publicly funded research. As a result, there are many disciplines where proposals for data sharing are being discussed.
Publishers, including PLOS and the BMJ Publishing Group, that have implemented data sharing requirements have found that it is not trivial to do. A recent post on the Scholarly Kitchen (http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2016/01/13/what-price-progress-the-costs-of-an-effective-data-publishing-policy/) discussed the costs and workforce issues that could result from making data sharing a requirement for publication of research. Some of the questions raised relate to availability of data archives and infrastructure outside of publishers, and the enforcement policies of journals to assure compliance with data archiving and sharing. If there is no enforcement of a data sharing policy, and the infrastructure to support data sharing is lacking (it is currently patchy, although well developed in Australia, for example) and the editors do not have a policy of peer review of the data prior to acceptance of the paper, how will requiring data sharing actually improve the integrity of the research? Other questions include how long should data remain available, who should manage the availability and sharing of the data, and how much will these requirements cost? In addition, there is a need to ensure that those whose data are reused get adequate credit—something that is not routinely done, but which groups such as Force 11 and others (https://www.force11.org/group/joint-declaration-data-citation-principles-final) are working towards. Most recently, questions about the legitimate requests for and re-use of data have been explored systematically and thoughtfully by Lewandowsky & Bishop (2016).
In light of the above concerns about implementing a data sharing policy, COPE invites discussion on this topic, specifically relating to the following questions:
- Should researchers be required now to make their data available as a condition of publishing?
- Who should disseminate guidelines and/or monitor data sharing practices?
- What issues surround the re-use of published data?
- Should data deposited by authors be subject to peer review? Prior to publication? To settle disputing claims about results? For use in systematic reviews and meta-analyses?
- What best practices are already used by journals, publishers and data repositories that could be adapted for use by others considering data sharing requirements?
- Since past practices do not often enable data sharing in any easy way, should there be an ‘amnesty’ for old work, but stricter standards applied to work now being done?
Lewandowsky S, Bishop D. (2016). Research integrity: Don’t let transparency damage science. Nature, 25 January, vol 529; http://www.nature.com/news/research-integrity-don-t-let-transparency-damage-science-1.19219
Taichman DB, et al. (2016). Sharing clinical trial data—A proposal from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. New England Journal of Medicine, January 20. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe1515172
Vickers A J. (2006). Whose data set is it anyway? Sharing raw data from randomized trials. Trials 7; 15. DOI: 10.1186/1745-6215-7-15
Wager, E. (2016). Sharing data is a good thing. But we need to consider the costs. Retraction Watch, 28 January 2016; http://retractionwatch.com/2016/01/28/sharing-data-is-a-good-thing-but-we-need-to-consider-the-costs/