Sharing data

Funding bodies and publishers may stipulate the deposition of research data in a data repository after a project’s completion. By registering and archiving your data, you can increase your research visibility and offer open, or controlled, access to your datasets. This section advises you on the necessary steps for depositing data, as well as outlining your options for data sharing.

Can, and should, you share your data?

You do not simply have to decide to make your data open, or to keep it closed, you have a range of options for sharing your data. Ultimately, your funder’s position on data sharing will influence your decision. However, planning carefully for data sharing from the very outset, will give you flexibility in controlling access to the data and its future reuse, whilst remaining compliant with funder policies. Your options include any, or a combination of:

  • Imposing an embargo period, if, for example, you need to continue to exploit your data for either publication or commercial purposes.
  • Giving different levels of access to different parts of your data: some data could be restricted, whilst other data could be shared with others.
  • Creating different versions of your dataset. Therefore, even if your research involves sensitive information, you could share anonymised data and keep any data with personal identifiers private.
  • Limit the sharing of your data to certain users, for instance bone fide researchers.
  • Make signing a data use agreement that dictates how the data can be used a condition of data sharing.
  • Applying a licence that specifies how the data can be used. See, ‘How to License Research Data’ by the DCC.

Contact the Research Data Management Officer to talk through the options for sharing and licensing your data in more detail.

Data Access Statements

As a minimum, you should include a data access statement in your publication that explains how, and under what circumstances, if any, the underlying data can be accessed. If the data is closed, you will need to offer a reason why and note if, and when, any embargoes will be lifted. Additionally, a record describing your data (a metadata record) must exist in NTU’s IRep (see ‘register your data with NTU’ below).

The process for depositing your research data

Archiving is not only a precursor to data sharing; it also secures your data against loss, deterioration and future incompatibility issues. Therefore, even if you are not mandated to archive your research data, or cannot share it because it is confidential or commercially sensitive, it is still advisable to arrange for the long-term preservation of your research data. Follow this process:

Step one: select data

You should retain any data that underpins your research output for the purposes of transparency, scrutiny and potential reuse. You should also preserve any data that has long-term value. In order to determine if your data falls into this category, then you can reference the DCC’s guide, ‘Five steps to decide what data to keep’.

Step two: identify a data repository

Your funders or journal publishers may specify, or have preferred repositories. For example, if BBRSC, ESRC, NERC or Wellcome funds your research, then check their policy requirements and deposit with their recommended repositories.

If this does not apply to you then you can search for relevant subject-specific repositories using the Registry of Research Data Repositories, re3data.org. You could also explore making your data available in general repositories such as figshare. If you intend to make your data open, then browse the Open Access Directory for open data repositories.

The DCC have produced an excellent guide, ‘Where to keep research data: DCC checklist for evaluating data repositories’. This takes you through all of the aspects you need to consider to help you select the right repository for your data; it also includes a useful synopsis of the key funder expectations.

NTU does have an institutional data repository in which you can deposit your data. Contact the Research Data Management Officer for guidance and support if you are funded by the Research Councils, or if you cannot find an appropriate data repository.

Step three: prepare and upload

Each archive will have its own set of procedures for data deposit, so please consult your chosen archive for more information, but the UK Data Service has useful guidance for preparing your data for submission. For data that is going to be archived in the NTU repository, the Research Data Management Officer offers a mediated service to help you prepare your data for submission and complete the accompanying documentation.

Step four: register data with NTU

Once you have deposited your data, you should register your data with NTU. Your Library will create a record of the dataset in IRep, linking to both your dataset and the associated published outputs. Email the Research Data Management Officer, providing:

  • the name of the archive you used
  • details of the dataset, for example the title and publication date
  • the DOI that was assigned to your dataset upon submission to the repository
  • details of any published outputs associated with the data