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Report on data sharing

2011 November 4
by Monica Duke

The second of the three posts that I’m releasing on the principle of ‘better late than never’ was a pointer to Christine Borgman’s  report: Research Data: Who Will Share What, with Whom, When, and Why?“ (2010), which was summarised by Current Cites as follows:

Summary by Current Cites : The growing open data and open science movements have helped focus attention on issues related to scientific research data. In this eprint, Borgman, Presidential Chair and Professor of Information Studies at UCLA, tackles the thorny problem of defining “data,” examines the purposes of data-driven research, discusses the methods of such research, summarizes researchers’ incentives and disincentives for data sharing, takes a detailed look at four policy arguments for data sharing, and considers the role of libraries in the data sharing process. The data-sharing policy arguments are “to make the results of publicly funded data available to the public, to enable others to ask new questions of extant data, to advance the state of science, and to reproduce research

Borgman, who chaired the International Symposium and Workshop on Developing Data Attribution and Citation Principles and Practice, gave an excellent summary of the state of data citation in her opening talk.  In the above report, she discusses what could motivate or induce researchers to share data “Incentives for researchers to share their data include the ethos of open science and peer review; the value of collaborating with others, for which data may be the “glue;” benefits to reputation; and reciprocity. Depositing one’s data may be a condition of gaining access to the data of others, and of access to useful tools for analysis and management. Coercion may also play a role: some funding agencies or individual grant contracts may require data contribution as a condition for funding.” (P.7)  and the key citation-related requirement that ”At a minimum, most researchers want attribution for any data used by others.” (P.9)

Borgman also comments that “Learning the interests of a given community, however narrowly or broadly defined, requires close engagement and study.” (P.14) – this was very pertinent to the work of SageCite, which focussed on a specific community at Sage Bionetworks, and put effort into learning about and reproducing their workflows as a step towards understanding the data citation needs.

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