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Data Sharing by Scientists: Practices and Perceptions


  • Carol Tenopir
  • Suzie Allard
  • Kimberly Douglass
  • Arsev Umur Aydinoglu
  • Lei Wu
  • Eleanor Read
  • Maribeth Manoff
  • Mike Frame


Background: Scientific research in the 21st century is more data intensive and collaborative than in the past. It is important to study the data practices of researchers – data accessibility, discovery, re-use, preservation and, particularly, data sharing. Data sharing is a valuable part of the scientific method allowing for verification of results and extending research from prior results. Methodology/Principal Findings: A total of 1329 scientists participated in this survey exploring current data sharing practices and perceptions of the barriers and enablers of data sharing. Scientists do not make their data electronically available to others for various reasons, including insufficient time and lack of funding. Most respondents are satisfied with their current processes for the initial and short-term parts of the data or research lifecycle (collecting their research data; searching for, describing or cataloging, analyzing, and short-term storage of their data) but are not satisfied with long-term data preservation. Many organizations do not provide support to their researchers for data management both in the short- and long-term. If certain conditions are met (such as formal citation and sharing reprints) respondents agree they are willing to share their data. There are also significant differences and approaches in data management practices based on primary funding agency, subject discipline, age, work focus, and world region. Conclusions/Significance: Barriers to effective data sharing and preservation are deeply rooted in the practices and culture of the research process as well as the researchers themselves. New mandates for data management plans from NSF and other federal agencies and world-wide attention to the need to share and preserve data could lead to changes. Large scale programs, such as the NSF-sponsored DataNET (including projects like DataONE) will both bring attention and resources to the issue and make it easier for scientists to apply sound data management principles.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0021101
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021101

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    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. Elizabeth Martín-Mora & Shari Ellis & Lawrence M Page, 2020. "Use of web-based species occurrence information systems by academics and government professionals," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(7), pages 1-41, July.
    3. Lisa M Federer & Christopher W Belter & Douglas J Joubert & Alicia Livinski & Ya-Ling Lu & Lissa N Snyders & Holly Thompson, 2018. "Data sharing in PLOS ONE: An analysis of Data Availability Statements," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(5), pages 1-12, May.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Keiko Kurata & Mamiko Matsubayashi & Shinji Mine, 2017. "Identifying the Complex Position of Research Data and Data Sharing Among Researchers in Natural Science," SAGE Open, , vol. 7(3), pages 21582440177, July.
    7. Paolo Anagnostou & Marco Capocasa & Nicola Milia & Emanuele Sanna & Cinzia Battaggia & Daniela Luzi & Giovanni Destro Bisol, 2015. "When Data Sharing Gets Close to 100%: What Human Paleogenetics Can Teach the Open Science Movement," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(3), pages 1-14, March.
    8. John A Borghi & Ana E Van Gulick, 2018. "Data management and sharing in neuroimaging: Practices and perceptions of MRI researchers," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(7), pages 1-18, July.
    9. KWON Seokbeom & MOTOHASHI Kazuyuki, 2020. "Incentive or Disincentive for Disclosure of Research Data? A Large-Scale Empirical Analysis and Implications for Open Science Policy," Discussion papers 20058, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    10. Dobromir Rahnev & Kobe Desender & Alan Lee & William Adler & David Aguilar-Lleyda & Başak Akdoğan & Polina Arbuzova & Lauren Atlas & Fuat Balcı & Ji Won Bang & Indrit Bègue & Damian Birney & Timothy B, 2020. "The Confidence Database," Post-Print hal-02958766, HAL.
    11. Christopher W Belter, 2014. "Measuring the Value of Research Data: A Citation Analysis of Oceanographic Data Sets," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(3), pages 1-9, March.
    12. Mike Thelwall, 2020. "Data in Brief: Can a mega-journal for data be useful?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 124(1), pages 697-709, July.
    13. Brian Rappert & Louise Bezuidenhout, 2016. "Data sharing in low-resourced research environments," Prometheus, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(3-4), pages 207-224, October.
    14. 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.
    15. Claire M Mason & Paul J Box & Shanae M Burns, 2020. "Research data sharing in the Australian national science agency: Understanding the relative importance of organisational, disciplinary and domain-specific influences," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(8), pages 1-17, August.
    16. Youngseek Kim & Ayoung Yoon, 2017. "Scientists' data reuse behaviors: A multilevel analysis," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 68(12), pages 2709-2719, December.
    17. Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Arjen Witteloostuijn & Klaus E. Meyer, 2020. "A new approach to data access and research transparency (DART)," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 51(6), pages 887-905, August.
    18. Yann Joly & Edward S Dove & Bartha M Knoppers & Martin Bobrow & Don Chalmers, 2012. "Data Sharing in the Post-Genomic World: The Experience of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) Data Access Compliance Office (DACO)," PLOS Computational Biology, Public Library of Science, vol. 8(7), pages 1-5, July.
    19. Carol Tenopir & Natalie M Rice & Suzie Allard & Lynn Baird & Josh Borycz & Lisa Christian & Bruce Grant & Robert Olendorf & Robert J Sandusky, 2020. "Data sharing, management, use, and reuse: Practices and perceptions of scientists worldwide," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(3), pages 1-26, March.
    20. Erika Kleiderman & Amy Pack & Pascal Borry & Ma’n Zawati, 2018. "The author who wasn’t there? Fairness and attribution in publications following access to population biobanks," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(3), pages 1-13, March.
    21. Garret Christensen & Allan Dafoe & Edward Miguel & Don A Moore & Andrew K Rose, 2019. "A study of the impact of data sharing on article citations using journal policies as a natural experiment," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(12), pages 1-13, December.

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