How to share data

The digital revolution has caused a strong drive towards open access of information, with the internet making information sharing fast, easy, powerful and empowering.

Scholarly publishing has also seen a strong move toward open access to increase the impact of research, with e-journals, open access journals and copyright policies enabling the deposit of outputs in open access repositories. The same movement also steers towards more open access of the underlying data and evidence on which research publications are based.

Choosing your research data sharing strategy

Research data can be shared in various ways.

Data archive/data centre

Data centres and archives can provide long-term care and sharing of research data with controlled access to sensitive data, and create a catalogue record for data which makes them more discoverable. Archives take responsibility for handling data reuse queries, licensing, dissemination and promotionof data on behalf of the data owner. Archives also undertake responsibility for safe long-term care, protecting data from format obsolescence, data loss, deterioration, or irreversible damage.

All ESRC researchers are contractually required to offer data to the UK Data Archive (through the UK Data Service) or to another responsible repository. The UK Data Service has staff on hand to support award applicants and award holders by providing advice and guidance on data management issues. Contacting us early on is highly beneficial.

Institutional repository

An institutional repository can offer an in-house place to store and share data created by institutional staff and students. Such repositories may not offer the same level of services as a data archive; such as promotion, data curation or the long-term preservation and accessibility of data.

Self-preservation and dissemination

This can be via project websites or informal peer-to-peer sharing.

Project websites can offer immediate storage and dissemination, but will offer less sustainability and long-term preservation. It can also be costly to manage and difficult to control who uses the data and how.

Informal peer-to-peer sharing allows for quick sharing. However, it makes it difficult to know which data can be obtained where, who to contact, managing data access becomes a burden and it does not ensure availability of the data in the long-term.

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