Why Share Your Data?
Data sharing benefits the researcher, research sponsors, data repositories, the scientific community, and the public. It encourages more connection and collaboration between scientists, and better science leads to better decisionmaking.
Data sharing is typically encouraged within the scientific community but it requires a great deal of effort, resources, and collaboration. Preparing data to be shared takes time and careful documentation of the research process and the data results. Nevertheless, data sharing has important long- and short-term benefits for the researcher, the research sponsor, the data repository, the scientific community, and the public.
There are inherent benefits of data sharing for the researcher and research sponsor. Making the data available to their peers and the public incentivizes researchers to better manage their data and ensure their data are of high quality. Research sponsors can benefit from shared data by stimulating interest and mobilizing continued research within their scientific field. Thus, data sharing can help raise recognition and prominence for both the researcher and the research sponsor.
Data sharing encourages more connection and collaboration between researchers, which can result in important new findings within the field. In a time of reduced monetary investment for science and research, data sharing is more efficient because it allows researchers to share resources.
Data sharing allows researchers to build upon the work of others rather than repeat already existing research. Sharing data also enables researchers to perform meta-analyses on the current research topic. Meta-analyses are important for gathering larger trends over a wider regional or topic area. Therefore data sharing ensures the continued production of these types of analyses.
Better Science & Decisionmaking
Sharing data increases data circulation and use within the scientific community by encouraging better transparency, enabling reproducibility of results, and informing the larger scientific community. This, in turn, can greatly benefit the public as better and more widely disseminated information can lead to informed decisionmaking for environmental planning and policy.
Concerns & Considerations
Despite the many benefits gained from data sharing, there are important considerations that researchers must be aware of when sharing their data. There are concerns that others will use the data inappropriately or out of context from the original purpose of the research. Additionally, data may have sensitive information, and apprehensions about maintaining confidentiality are reasonable.
Lastly, researchers may also be uneasy about the prospect of not receiving acknowledgement by others who use their data, or that others will use their data to gain a competitive advantage. While these are valid concerns, often maintaining good data sharing practices and writing comprehensive metadata can largely address many of these issues.