Data sharing is the process of making research data available for wider dissemination. The FAIR principles state data and metadata should be: findable (easy to find for both humans and computers); accessible (accompanied by clear instructions for access and authorisation); interoperable (compatible with other data and/or tools); and reusable (suitably described to allow further use).
There are many positive reasons to share data. Sharing data opens opportunities for scientific enquiry through the promotion of innovation via new data uses and collaboration. It maximises transparency and helps ensure the reliability of the scientific record.
A data management plan (DMP) is a living document that will help you to consider how you will organise your research data. A DMP will make it easier and quicker to keep track of your data for sharing and reuse. Having a DMP also helps to keep data secure and protect against loss or exposure. Writing a DMP ensures compliance with funder and institutional requirements.
For different disciplines and subject areas data looks quite different. For example, for English Literature your data might be your textual analysis. Data may typically include information created directly from research activities such as experiments, or analysis. Data may be raw or primary or subsets derived from primary data and may be print, digital or physical in form. For example, data can be collections of digital images, sound recordings, or transcripts of interviews. See Solent University's Open Research Data Policy for what research data covers.
You own the copyright to scholarly works that you author. Scholarly works include journal articles, books, contributions to books, conference papers and literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works. However, the research data you produce during your employment at Solent University usually remains the property of the University. See the Intellectual Property Rights Policy for additional guidance. Yet whilst the licencing and sharing of data is controlled by copyright ownership, laws and policies also determine what can be done with the data. Having a DMP will help you identify any issues at the start of your project.
Data needs to be preserved and shared openly to maximise its value, and this is set out in the 2016 UK Concordat on Open Research Data. If you receive funding, you should check funder policies about requirements for data sharing. For example, with UKRI funded research, each research council has its own data and sharing and management policies and guidance. There is also an expectation at Solent University that where possible data should be shared openly, and managed to the highest standards for reasons of research integrity and reproducibility. See the Open Research Data Policy for more information on institutional requirements.
A DMP will typically include information about how the data is going to be stored and archived; information about the researchers involved and their responsibilities; and descriptions to help readers find and use your data. See the Digital Curation Centre's Checklist for a data management plan; and also Solent University's Open Research Data Policy has guidance on what a DMP should address.
What data you can share is governed by the Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR), funder guidelines, and Solent University's guidance. Personal data can be shared, and there are ways to do this including by consent, through controlled access, and by anonymisation. See the UK Data Service's guidance on Research data management for best practice for data protection, ethics and anonymisation. Data underpinning publications and useful datasets where possible should be shared via a suitable repository.
Sometimes funders specify where they require data underpinning funded research to be deposited. Otherwise, you can search Re3data.org, a global registry of research data repositories to identify an appropriate subject repository for your data. You can also deposit in the University's repository, Pure, using the Pure deposit form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need to apply a licence to the data and select a suitable Creative Commons licence such as CC BY.
For an introduction to research data management the following external training is recommended:
Data management basics: Introduction to data management and sharing (recorded workshop), by UK Data Service: https://youtu.be/E3KJJQ-X-qg
Research Data Management and Sharing (MOOC), by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The University of Edinburgh via Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/learn/data-management
MANTRA: Research Data Management Training (online course), by The University of Edinburgh: https://mantra.ed.ac.uk/