Open-access policy and data-sharing practice in UK academia
journal contributionposted on 25.04.2019, 15:26 by Yimei Zhu
Data sharing can be defined as the release of research data that can be used by others. With the recent open-science movement, there has been a call for free access to data, tools and methods in academia. In recent years, subject-based and institutional repositories and data centres have emerged along with online publishing. Many scientific records, including published articles and data, have been made available via new platforms. In the United Kingdom, most major research funders had a data policy and require researchers to include a ‘data-sharing plan’ when applying for funding. However, there are a number of barriers to the full-scale adoption of data sharing. Those barriers are not only technical, but also psychological and social. A survey was conducted with over 1800 UK-based academics to explore the extent of support of data sharing and the characteristics and factors associated with data-sharing practice. It found that while most academics recognised the importance of sharing research data, most of them had never shared or reused research data. There were differences in the extent of data sharing between different gender, academic disciplines, age and seniority. It also found that the awareness of Research Council UK’s (RCUK) Open-Access (OA) policy, experience of Gold and Green OA publishing, attitudes towards the importance of data sharing and experience of using secondary data were associated with the practice of data sharing. A small group of researchers used social media such as Twitter, blogs and Facebook to promote the research data they had shared online. Our findings contribute to the knowledge and understanding of open science and offer recommendations to academic institutions, journals and funding agencies.