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Research Data Management


Data Sharing and Management Snafu in 3 Short Acts

A data management horror story by Karen Hanson, Alisa Surkis and Karen Yacobucci. This is what shouldn't happen when a researcher makes a data sharing request! Topics include storage, documentation, and file formats.

(Source: New York University Health Sciences Libraries)


Sharing Data: Good for Science, Good for You

How long do your research data live? Dutch historian Martijn Kleppe (EUR) explains why he chose to share his big photo database with other researchers, and quantitative data analyst Manfred te Grotenhuis (RU) speaks about the treasures in data archives that are waiting to be discovered by researchers.

(Source: DANS Data Archiving and Networked Services)

Why share data?

More and more research funding agencies around the world are requiring research data to be made openly available. For example, Research Councils UK advocates that “Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner.”

In Singapore, the 2016 Social Science Research Thematic Grant call by Ministry of Education has included the following open data sharing requirement: "8.1 Subject to restrictions related to research ethics, confidentiality and intellectual property, all data generated from research funded by the Thematic Grant should be made available to user communities at the earliest feasible opportunity. This would generally be no later than the release through publication of the study’s main findings, or in line with established best practices in the respective fields."

The National Medical Research Council (NMRC) of the Ministry of Health in Singapore requires research data sharing for projects with funding of $250,000 and above from November 2015 onwards.

In Nanyang Technological University, the NTU Research Data Policy (launched on 14 Apr 2016) requires open access research data sharing unless there is any agreement with external parties that prevent so.

Benefits of sharing data:

  • encourages scientific enquiry and debate
  • promotes innovation and potential new data uses
  • leads to new collaborations between data users and data creators
  • maximises transparency and accountability
  • enables scrutiny of research findings
  • encourages the improvement and validation of research methods
  • reduces the cost of duplicating data collection
  • increases the impact and visibility of research
  • provides credit to the researcher as a research output in its own right
  • provides great resources for education and training

(Source: UK Data Service)

Does it help my citation count?

There is no lack of literature that tells us about the positive correlation between publicly available research data and increased literature impact. For example, based on a study done on 85 cancer microarray clinical trial publications, publicly available data was significantly associated with a 69% increase in citations, independently of journal impact factor, date of publication, and author country of origin using linear regression (Piwowar, Day & Fridsma, 2007). In another study, it was found that data made available in a public repository received 9% more citations than similar studies for which the data was not made available (Piwowar & Vision, 2013).

Further readings:

FAIR data

Research data has to be as open as possible and as closed as necessary.

The best practice for open research data would be to follow the FAIR data standard.

FAIR stands for:

  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Interoperable
  • Reusable

The best way to make your data FAIR is to make use of a data repository that is FAIR-aligned and complies with international data repository standards such as CoreTrustSeal (CTS). DR-NTU (Data) is CTS certified in 2022.

How FAIR is your data? Check out these self-assessment tools:

When not to share data

There are some legitimate reasons for not sharing your data publicly:

  • Research data contains sensitive data pertaining to human subjects, and human subject identifiable data cannot be anonymised. See NTU IRB guidelines for more detailed information.
  • Research data is bound by contractual terms/agreements or legal obligations (e.g. Research Collaboration Agreements, Project Agreements, Material Transfer Agreements, Non-Disclosure Agreements, Official Secrets Act).
  • You plan to publish a paper with the research data. In this case, you can restrict or embargo the data sharing until the paper is published.
  • You plan to make a patent application. In this case, you can restrict or embargo the data sharing until the patent is obtained.