Research Data Management
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Sharing Data

The data you generate may be of value beyond the scope of your research project, particularly if you share it.

What are the benefits of sharing my data?

These are just a few of the benefits of sharing your data:

Extend the usefulness of your data: Allowing others to use and cite your data will help extend the usefulness of your research, particularly as it can open up access to individuals in different countries, disciplines and departments.

Long term preservation of your data: Ensuring that your data is easily located can help you in the long term, especially if you need to access your data again in the future.

Scientific advances: Sharing your data will allow others to test, replicate and validate your results. This can generate new research to be generated through identification of gaps or correction

Cost effective: Sharing your data may reduce the chances of self- duplication or by others

When should I share my data?

There are some circumstances where the decision to share your data is beyond your control.  For example, your funder or publisher may require you to share your data as part of your agreement with them. You may also have requests to share your data under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Making data accessible to others

To researchers:

Depositing your data in public data centres or archives, such as UK Data Archive will help increase the chances of your data being made widely available to a range of individuals.  You may also consider depositing your data in your institutional repository. For more information on how to do this visit our deposit your data page.

Alternatively, you may allow others to download your data from a web page (if you have one) or provide details of how they can contact you directly to request the data from you, for example via email.

To collaborators:

There are several ways in which you can share your data with collaborators, for example:

Portable storage devices such as Memory sticks or CDs. Refer to the data security page to ensure your data is transported safely.

Online file sharing facilities that are supported by the University include Workspace and the Windows filestore.

When would it not be appropriate to share my data?

There may be occasions where it is not appropriate to share your data, for example if it is likely to breech Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) or a commercial contract. Caution also needs to be applied when considering sharing sensitive and confidential data, as there may be instances where this can’t actually be done ethically, particularly, if data is not anonymised, or if informed consent has not explicitly been given by participants to share the data .

Above all, take care and seek advice when research involves either human subjects, sensitive data or commercial interests.

There are several ways in which you can restrict access to your data for example:

• ensuring that before embarking on use of your data, that any user has signed/ indicated their agreement to a 'terms of use' policy

• protecting your data with an appropriate legal licence 

• asking users to produce a written statement indicating how they will use your data

• only publishing the metadata, consequently requesting that users contact you by email to gain full access to your dataset

• implementing a mixed level access restriction which 'regulates access to confidential/sensitive data with access to non- confidential data'

Other Useful Resources

The University of Nottingham Code of Research Conduct and Research Ethics provides more University specific content on sharing your data.

The UK Data Archive provides advice on Managing and sharing data

The Advanced Data Analysis Centre (ADAC) is funded to support research by the analysis and interpretation of complex data. ADAC will participate in collaborative projects, bringing expertise in a range of data analysis disciplines.

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