Towards a Data Sharing Culture: Recommendations for Leadership from Academic Health Centers

This paper includes an awesome table (p.003) which outlines attributes related to research data sharing in academic health centres.  The table includes determinants of data access from the perspective of data storage, controls on access to data, and who determines access permissions.

The paper also includes 7 recommendations for Academic Health Centres (AHC) to encourage data sharing which I think can be modified to suit other contexts:

  1. Commit to sharing data as openly as possible, given privacy constraints.  Streamline institutional review boards, technology transfer, and information technology policies and procedures accordingly.
  2. Recognize data sharing contributions in hiring and promotion decisions, perhaps as a bonus to a publication’s impact factor.  Use concrete metrics when available. [I like that they understand the incentive structures of this group]
  3. Educate trainees and current investigators on responsible data sharing and reuse practices through class work, mentorship, and professional development.  Promote a framework for deciding upon appropriate data sharing mechanisms.
  4. Encourage data sharing practices as part of publication policies.  Lobby for explicit and enforceable policies in journal and conference instructions, to both authors and peer reviewers.
  5. Encourage data sharing plans as part of funding policies.  Lobby for appropriate data sharing requirements by funders, and recommend that they assess a proposal’s data sharing plans as part of its scientific contributions.
  6. Fund the cost of data sharing, support for repositories, adoption of sharing infrastructure and metrics, and research into best practices through federal grants and AHC funds.
  7. Publish experiences in data sharing to facilitate the exchange of best practices.

I have not looked at this literature in a while, but my sense is the discourse is moving away from problems to providing solutions.  Most importantly in the case of this paper, they are culture shifting since, in a sense they a pushing toward an open access ideology by creating an environment conducive to sharing by hiring the right people, providing the appropriate incentives, marketing successes, changing publication practices, educating and promoting open access within.  This is most interesting as this is the medical profession, a bastion of commerce and privacy concerns that is moving to open access faster than our Statistical Agency in Canada!

The full paper is available for free in myriad formats!

Piwowar HA, Becich MJ, Bilofsky H, Crowley RS, on behalf of the caBIG Data Sharing and Intellectual Capital Workspace (2008), Towards a Data Sharing Culture: Recommendations for Leadership from Academic Health Centers. PLoS Med 5(9): e183

The publisher, PLoS Medicine:

PLoS Medicine believes that medical research is an international public resource. The journal provides an open-access venue for important, peer-reviewed advances in all disciplines. With the ultimate aim of improving human health, we encourage research and comment that address the global burden of disease.

PLoS Medicine (eISSN 1549-1676; ISSN-1549-1277) is an open-access, peer-reviewed medical journal published monthly online by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), a nonprofit organization. The inaugural issue was published on 19 October 2004.