There are valid and important reasons for sharing your data. Sharing your data ensures that it can be accessed and cited in the long term.
Sharing your data:
- will contribute to building research partnerships; nationally and internationally
- will increase your citation rates
- may be a requirement of your funding or of publishing your research
- is an essential part of your responsibility as the principal investigator in documenting and establishing ownership and rights through a good data management plan before a research project commences.
Providing open access to data through repositories has had significant research impact and is increasingly considered a major element in the publishing process.
This access can be provided through the descriptive metadata in Deakin Research Online (DRO) and Research Data Australia (RDA), enabling discovery. Discovery is also possible through subject repositories in Australia and internationally.
You can ensure valuable data collections are made publicly accessible either in the early stages of your research or when you have completed your research.
Concerned about your publishing options?
You can still provide the metadata to your work and restrict access to your data by placing an embargo until you publish, or consider releasing your data successively, for example as you publish your results.
You set the rules.
Determining access to data in the early stages of a project will help establish where the data will be stored and under what conditions the data may be accessed.
You set the rules for access to your data. Access at Deakin University is provided either by a direct link to the data store or through the contact details you provide.
What type of permission or consent should be considered?
You will need to obtain written consent from participants for the further use of their data, or the researchers seeking access to the data will need to obtain a waiver of consent under the applicable legislation.
Ensure that where data must be stored in identifiable form, that appropriate consent is obtained from the original participants for the reuse of their information.
Access to personal information is governed by complex laws and guidelines. In this case you should contact an Ethics Advisor to discuss the proposed access and obtain tailored advice. If you have questions about reuse of your data and the ethics approval change process, first check the appropriate section of Human Research Ethics Guidelines.
Policies and enablers
Deakin University's Research Conduct Policy (clause 16) supports the dissemination of research data as freely as practicable, subject to privacy, contractual and intellectual property requirements.
In addition, The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (PDF, 829KB) states that research data should be made available for use by other researchers unless prevented by ethical, privacy or confidentiality matters (clause 2.5.2).
There are valid reasons why you may not be able to share all or part of your data, such as:
- legal issues
- sensitivity issues
- to protect future publication of your results.
You may need to de-identify data in order to share it, but must ensure that it may not be re-identified when used in conjunction with other related data files.
Some research data may need to remain confidential because of:
- contracts with sponsors
- to protect Intellectual Property
- to protect privacy or confidentiality of research participants
- to protect the copyright of others.
Copyright and licensing
Copyright provides protection to your research data and exists when a work, expressed in a certain form, is created.
For copyright purposes, data compilations such as datasets and databases can be protected by copyright if it consists of words, figures or symbols; for example
- spread sheets
- field notes
- sound recordings - material objects
- is either a literary work or has a degree of originality.
Who is the copyright owner?
Generally under copyright law the creator of the work, which may be two or more people (joint authors), is the copyright owner.
If the rights are retained and not assigned or transferred to a third party, as with a collaborative research project or publishing agreement, the copyright remains with the creator/s.
If the data has been produced in the course of your work, the University may be the copyright owner and you should refer to the University's Intellectual Property Statute.
The copyright owner may determine if the data can be shared or reused. Discover the benefits (below) of why you should share your data.
The protection of your data can be covered by the following:
- a Copyright Act
- a Creative Commons (CC) licence that you have applied to your data
- an AusGoal licence - developed specifically for research material when a Creative Commons licence cannot be used.
Important first steps include determining whether the data is protected by copyright and then to consider applying a CC or AusGoal licence.
To make informed choices and create licences, further detailed information is available from ANDS Copyright and Data, AusGoal and Deakin University Library's Open and Access and Licensing website OPAL.
The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) identifies these practical reasons for sharing:
- research results can be verified
- research into multi-disciplinary issues like climate, water, health and energy can draw data from different fields
- data that cannot be duplicated are preserved
- time series can be created
- duplication of effort can be avoided.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists the goals achieved by sharing data as:
- reinforcing open scientific inquiry
- encouraging diversity of analysis and opinion
- promoting new research, testing of new or alternative hypotheses and methods of analysis
- supporting studies on data collection methods and measurement
- facilitating education of new researchers
- enabling the exploration of topics not envisioned by the initial investigators
- permitting the creation of new datasets by combining data from multiple sources.