Practical challenges for researchers in data sharing

We published the white paper Practical challenges for researchers in data sharing on 21 March 2018. Based one of the largest surveys of researchers about research data, the whitepaper finds widespread data sharing associated with published works and a desire from researchers that their data are discoverable.

White Paper: Practical Challenges for Researchers in Data Sharing
Our survey aimed to understand researcher activity around sharing data at a particular point in the research lifecycle – when researchers are preparing their work for publication. Responses from over 7,700 researchers enabled us to draw new insights to data sharing across subject fields and, to a lesser extent, across geographies.

If you’d like information about our research data services for institutions, please go here. The services are designed to help institutions support their researchers with data sharing.

Key findings from our survey:

  • When asked what they do with the data files generated by their research when submitting to a journal, 63% of respondents stated that they generally submit data files as supplementary information, deposit the files in a repository, or both.
  • 76% of researchers rated the importance of making their data discoverable highly – with an average rating of 7.3 out of 10 and the most popular rating being 10 out of 10 (25%).
  • The main challenge to data sharing was identified by respondents as ‘Organizing data in a presentable and useful way’ (46%), with other challenges generally rated:
    • ‘Unsure about copyright and licensing’ – 37%
    • ‘Not knowing which repository to use’ – 33%
    • ‘Lack of time to deposit data’ – 26%
    • ‘Costs of sharing data’ – 19%
  • This survey adds to previous research on how data sharing behavior and challenges differ by subject and region, finding that lack of time is a greater concern to researchers in Europe, North America and Australia, while costs of sharing data is recognized as more of a concern by those in Asia and South America.
  • Similarly, there is a difference between how much time and knowledge is an issue depending on the seniority of researchers. When asked about barriers to data sharing, time is a bigger issue with more senior researchers (29% for most senior versus 23% of early career researchers), while 40% of early career researchers cite not knowing where to share data as a problem versus 30% for the most senior researchers; uncertainty about copyright and licensing is cited by 43% for early career researchers versus 33% for the most senior researchers.
  • Concerns about cost stay reasonably low as a stated factor throughout different career stages (ranging between 18-20%), whereas concerns about organising data in a presentable and useful way stay high throughout (ranging between 48-49%).
  • The size of datasets also has an impact on whether data are shared – respondents that generate the smallest data files (<20MB; n = 2,036) have the highest proportion of data that are neither shared as supplementary information nor deposited in a repository (42%). In contrast, 70% of those with data files greater than 50GB (n = 700) share their data, with a strong preference for sharing through repositories (59%).
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