Publish and share
Publishing and sharing research knowledge and its underpinning data is a fundamental scholarly activity, that helps individual researchers as well as the broader community do better research.
Open data is an enabler of high quality research, a facilitator of innovation and safeguards good research practice. Open data can underpin innovation, for example when researchers with fresh perspectives use data in unexpected ways or when companies use data to help them develop new products. This can lead to substantial economic benefits and help growth. Open research data is considered public good, and City, University of London aims to provide the necessary support to academics so that they can deliver this public good.
Publishing open research data have many benefits for various stakeholders. For researchers:
- it increases the impact of research and possibly the citation rates of publications based on open data;
- supports the verification and replication of research results by other researchers, thus protecting against any hint of fraud;
- establishes new links to potential collaborators, students and next generation of researchers;
- enhances the visibility of research projects.
For the research community:
- it preserves data for future use;
- provides important teaching resources;
- reinforces open scientific inquiry and debate.
For the public:
- it advances science for the benefit of society;
- promotes innovation through novel perspectives on research data.
For research funders
- it maximises return on investment by promoting secondary use of data and avoiding duplication of data collection.
It might be valid to restrict access to data if, for example, you wish/ need to:
- maintain confidentiality
- protect participants’ privacy
- respect consent forms. Participants might have consented to their data being kept or shared for a specific period of time, so it is important to take this under consideration when you use data collected by human participants.
- maintain exclusive use of the data for an embargo period of time
It might be appropriate however to think whether adopting a graded approach to manage both potential risks and accessibility. In other words, a graded approach could ensure that less sensitive data are made more readily available and access to more sensitive data is more stringently controlled.
Another point to consider when you restrict access to data is the involvement of companies in collaborative research. For instance, if the research involves commercially sensitive data*, a control-management system would determine when and how data should be made openly accessible taking into consideration both openness and commercial incentives.
*Commercially sensitive data may be data given by the company for the purpose of the project. This data may need to be purged when publishing them. All contracts with companies will include confidentiality clauses which need to be observed and taken into consideration from the beginning.
Finally, it is important to mention that all higher education institutions have to comply with the freedom of information legislation and research information. As the UK Head of Policy Delivery at the ICO stated:
'It is important that all higher education institutions comply with their obligations under freedom of information legislation. However, we appreciate the distinctive challenges that requests can pose. This guidance should help institutions to understand when they can apply exemptions to protect important research information.’(ICO website)
Both the guide on freedom of information legislation and key advice, such as proactive disclosure, can be found in the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
City is developing an institutional data repository. The primary aim of the service is to support scholars comply with funders’ requirements, and showcase data outputs to the world by making them more discoverable and accessible.
The project is under development at the moment. Please check this page for updates.
In the meantime, you can deposit your data on an external data repository. You should consider Digital Curation Centre’s checklist on how to evaluate data repositories and whether they are suitable for your research.