Research data forms an important part of the scholarly record. The University – alongside many funders and journal publishers – requires that research data be made available for sharing wherever possible.
However, it's widely accepted that the requirement to share data does not equate to "open" access to data in every case. Some data may not be shared openly as it may be confidential, sensitive, or subject to a non-disclosure agreement.
Before sharing or reusing data you should consider:
- Do you have appropriate consent to share data and/or necessary agreement with third party project partners?
- Is data appropriately anonymised?
- Should access to data be restricted or only made available under certain conditions eg if you have signed a non-disclosure agreement?
- Do you intend to make a patent application? If so, you must avoid prior disclosure.
- Are you currently publishing papers based on the data? Be aware of your publisher and funder expectations. You may need to make data available – not necessarily openly – where it underpins a publication.
- Is it worth sharing all your data or just processed and analysed data? This will vary by subject area and weighing up the costs and benefits of sharing different types and stages of data is largely an academic judgement eg "it may be more effective to preserve the means to recreate the data by preserving the generating code and environment, rather than preserving the data themselves" (EPSRC).
Information about any sensitive data and safeguards should be included in the data management plan.