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Research Data Management: Sharing, publishing and Open Data

Sharing and publishing your data

Why share your data?

Making your data Open is increasingly required by funders and journals, but making your data Open is not simply a matter of compliance. Several studies have found that sharing data increased the visibility of research, measured in increased rates of citation (Piwowar, Day & Fridsma, 2007; Piwowar & Vision, 2013; Christensen et al., 2019).

Making the most of publishing your data

There are some key considerations to keep in mind when publishing your data to get the most value, which this guide will cover. Where is the best place to publish or deposit your data? What access will you allow? What licence will you set? Are you sharing your data in formats that others can use, and are you including the right kind of metadata that allows your research community to find it?

FAIR Data Principles

Best practices for data sharing

A set of principles have been developed to guide researchers to ensure that their data is able to used and reused (Wilkinson et al., 2016).

  • Findable – data is registered in a searchable repository, given a doi, described accurately
  • Accessible – data can be easily retrieved through recognised standards – think also about making sure it is in formats that are open or standard/common
  • Interoperable – data can be integrated with other data by providing context/links, and is understandable to other humans and machines
  • Reusable – clear usage licence states what rights you retain and what other people can do with your data, and provides them with the information needed to cite the data

This guide will take you through steps to check whether your data is FAIR.

Findable: Data are registered in a searchable repository

What is a data repository?

A data repository is a data storage service that allows for the discovery, access, and storage of your research data.

Like a repository for publications, a data repository supports you in increasing the visibility and impact of your research, while also ensuring compliance with funder or legal requirements.

Institutional or disciplinary?

It is recommended that you store your research data, once complete, in Aston Data Explorer, but you may prefer to use a disciplinary repository. Disciplinary repositories can increase visibility among your peers, but you must take care to ensure:

  • it is reputable
  • it will take the data you want to deposit
  • it is legally compliant
  • it will sustain the value of your data
  • it will support analysis and track data usage

The repository you choose should also be Open Access, able to provide persistent identifiers (i.e. doi), and able to store the data for a minimum of 10 years. Use the Digital Curation Centre's checklist to work through the criteria for selecting the right repository for your data.

All of the above can be guaranteed in Aston Data Explorer. If you wish to use an external repository, it is strongly recommended that you create (or ask us to create) a record in Aston Data Explorer. This will help us in measuring compliance with funding requirements and increase the visibility of your work.

How do you find a repository?

A comprehensive list of over 2,000 repositories is available at re3data.

If you would like any help in locating or selecting the right repository for you, please contact your Information Specialist or Research Data.

What other publication options do you have?

Other methods of publishing your data as a journal supplement to your article or as a data article for a data journal. Sharing your data as a supplement may limit its visibility, but it emphasizes the relationship between the published piece of work and the underlying data. A data article may give you more of an opportunity to fully characterise your data with extended description and analysis of your methods.

As with disciplinary repositories, it is strongly recommended that you create (or ask us to create) a record in Aston Data Explorer if you publish in an external source. This will help us in measuring compliance with funding requirements and increase the visibility of your work.

Accessible: Data can be easily retrieved

Is your data able to be shared or stored?

For information on choosing the appropriate file formats that will enable your data to be used and preserved, please see the guide on creating and collecting data - creating your data.

Interoperable: Data can be integrated with other data

Is your data able to be found and understood?

For information on how to document and create metadata that will enable your data to be discovered and properly interpreted, please see the guide on creating and collecting data - documenting your data.

Reusable: Data are clearly labeled with access levels and licence rights

Data access levels

What access do you want to provide for your data?

Although Aston encourages you to make your data Open where possible, it can be necessary to limit or control access to a dataset.

In Aston Data Explorer, you can select one of these options depending on your needs for access or security:

  • Open: your metadata can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world and can be downloaded by anyone anywhere with no restrictions. This is suitable for data where there are no ethical considerations, copyright or intellectual property issues
  •  Embargoed: your metadata can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world and can be downloaded by anyone anywhere with no restrictions, after an initial embargo period has expired. This is suitable for data first use purposes, or embargoing data until the publication date
  • Restricted: your metadata can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world, but cannot be downloaded. The user must make a request on the repository to access the dataset and provide genuine reasons. This is then forwarded by Library Services to the relevant data creators and/or ethics committee. This is suitable for data types which have ethical, commercial, copyright or IP issues

If you choose to use an external repository, confirm what access requirements you have as part of your selection process. Most repositories will offer tiered access levels.

 

Licensing your data

Why use a licence for your data?

Licences enable reuse by clearly stating what rights you have reserved, what rights other users have, whether they must cite your data or share any derivative work produced. If you have worked with external collaborators, setting a clear agreed licence can also protect your rights to reuse the data in the future.

Data access levels set who can access or download your data. Licences clarify the legal rights of those who produced the data and those who would like to reuse it. They do not make criminal use of your work permissible (i.e. by reproducing without permission or selling your work under their name).

Who are licences for?

Licences can be made available to three kinds of audience, and you should strongly consider making your licence legible to all three:

  • Legal: using the terms as used in courts of law
  • Human-readable: clarification about what can or cannot be done that is understandable to a layman
  • Machine-readable:instructions to computers about what freedoms or restrictions are in place - particularly important if you are depositing software, algorithms or code

How do you select the right licence for your research data?

The licence that you choose will depend on what liberties you grant future users, or what uses you would prefer to restrict. To maximise the impact of your research, it is advises that one of the more liberal licences is selected, i.e. one that allows for derivative works or commercial development. The Licence Selector developed by ÚFAL may help you make an informed decision about which licence to choose.

Spectrum of CC licences

Creative Commons spectrum by Shaddim (2016) (CC-BY)