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Empirical Study of Data Sharing by Authors Publishing in PLoS Journals


  • Caroline J Savage
  • Andrew J Vickers


Background: Many journals now require authors share their data with other investigators, either by depositing the data in a public repository or making it freely available upon request. These policies are explicit, but remain largely untested. We sought to determine how well authors comply with such policies by requesting data from authors who had published in one of two journals with clear data sharing policies. Methods and Findings: We requested data from ten investigators who had published in either PLoS Medicine or PLoS Clinical Trials. All responses were carefully documented. In the event that we were refused data, we reminded authors of the journal's data sharing guidelines. If we did not receive a response to our initial request, a second request was made. Following the ten requests for raw data, three investigators did not respond, four authors responded and refused to share their data, two email addresses were no longer valid, and one author requested further details. A reminder of PLoS's explicit requirement that authors share data did not change the reply from the four authors who initially refused. Only one author sent an original data set. Conclusions: We received only one of ten raw data sets requested. This suggests that journal policies requiring data sharing do not lead to authors making their data sets available to independent investigators.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline J Savage & Andrew J Vickers, 2009. "Empirical Study of Data Sharing by Authors Publishing in PLoS Journals," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 4(9), pages 1-3, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0007078
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007078

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Stieglitz & Konstantin Wilms & Milad Mirbabaie & Lennart Hofeditz & Bela Brenger & Ania López & Stephanie Rehwald, 2020. "When are researchers willing to share their data? – Impacts of values and uncertainty on open data in academia," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(7), pages 1-20, July.
    2. Jillian C Wallis & Elizabeth Rolando & Christine L Borgman, 2013. "If We Share Data, Will Anyone Use Them? Data Sharing and Reuse in the Long Tail of Science and Technology," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 8(7), pages 1-17, July.
    3. Genevieve Pham-Kanter & Darren E Zinner & Eric G Campbell, 2014. "Codifying Collegiality: Recent Developments in Data Sharing Policy in the Life Sciences," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(9), pages 1-8, September.
    4. Nicola Milia & Alessandra Congiu & Paolo Anagnostou & Francesco Montinaro & Marco Capocasa & Emanuele Sanna & Giovanni Destro Bisol, 2012. "Mine, Yours, Ours? Sharing Data on Human Genetic Variation," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 7(6), pages 1-8, June.
    5. Marjan Bakker & Jelte M Wicherts, 2014. "Outlier Removal and the Relation with Reporting Errors and Quality of Psychological Research," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(7), pages 1-9, July.
    6. Andrew F Magee & Michael R May & Brian R Moore, 2014. "The Dawn of Open Access to Phylogenetic Data," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(10), pages 1-10, October.
    7. Michal Krawczyk & Ernesto Reuben, 2012. "(Un)Available upon Request: Field Experiment on Researchers' Willingness to Share Supplementary Materials," Natural Field Experiments 00689, The Field Experiments Website.
    8. Carol Tenopir & Suzie Allard & Kimberly Douglass & Arsev Umur Aydinoglu & Lei Wu & Eleanor Read & Maribeth Manoff & Mike Frame, 2011. "Data Sharing by Scientists: Practices and Perceptions," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 6(6), pages 1-21, June.
    9. Alawi A Alsheikh-Ali & Waqas Qureshi & Mouaz H Al-Mallah & John P A Ioannidis, 2011. "Public Availability of Published Research Data in High-Impact Journals," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 6(9), pages 1-4, September.
    10. Bryan T Drew & Romina Gazis & Patricia Cabezas & Kristen S Swithers & Jiabin Deng & Roseana Rodriguez & Laura A Katz & Keith A Crandall & David S Hibbett & Douglas E Soltis, 2013. "Lost Branches on the Tree of Life," PLOS Biology, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(9), pages 1-5, September.
    11. Jessica L Couture & Rachael E Blake & Gavin McDonald & Colette L Ward, 2018. "A funder-imposed data publication requirement seldom inspired data sharing," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(7), pages 1-13, July.
    12. Catrin Tudur Smith & Kerry Dwan & Douglas G Altman & Mike Clarke & Richard Riley & Paula R Williamson, 2014. "Sharing Individual Participant Data from Clinical Trials: An Opinion Survey Regarding the Establishment of a Central Repository," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(5), pages 1-8, May.

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