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Springer Nature proposes five essential factors to accelerate data sharing

A white paper released today draws on surveys of over 11,000 researchers to make concrete recommendations that ensure good data practice

Data Sharing, published by Springer Nature today, translates findings about researcher attitudes and behaviours into concrete measures that will accelerate data sharing. The white paper builds on a number of reports published in 2018 that pinpoint challenges researchers face when sharing data. The barriers identified include, for example, how to organize data in a presentable and useful way, confusion about copyright, and not knowing where data can be shared. Five Essential Factors for Data Sharing outlines approaches needed to tackle these and further barriers. The white paper and its underlying data are freely available via the figshare repository.     

Data sharing and good data management has been found to make research studies more productive, more likely to be cited and unlock innovation for the good of society. Data archiving, for example, can double the publication output of research projects, and has been associated with an increase in the citation impact of research papers by as much as 50 per cent. According to a new report for the European Commission, the minimum cost to the EU of poor data practice is €10.2 billion per year.  

“While we continue to see researchers increasingly sharing data, the majority of the research community are not yet managing or sharing data in ways that make it findable, accessible or reusable. The utopia of findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) data is still some way off,” explained Grace Baynes, Vice President Research Data & New Product Development at Springer Nature.

The white paper summarises the five essential factors to accelerate data sharing as:  

  • Clear policy: from funders, institutions, journals, publishers, and research communities. Setting unambiguous and specific requirements for data management and sharing to lead to a shift in researcher behaviour.

  • Better credit: to make data sharing worth a researcher’s time. With more formal recognition through data citations, authorship, inclusion in research assessments, and career advancement, data sharing will increase. 

  • Explicit funding: for data management and data sharing, as well as data publishing. Policy without access to dedicated funding to enable compliance is unlikely to result in increased data sharing.

  • Practical help: for organizing data, finding appropriate repositories and provision of faster, easier routes to share data. The majority of researchers don’t know how or where to make their research data available.

  • Training and education: to answer common questions from researchers on data sharing and help build skills and knowledge. Communicating the benefits of best data practice and addressing common areas of concern. 

Iain Hrynaszkiewicz, Head of Data Publishing at Springer Nature, said: “None of these essential factors can be solved by one stakeholder alone: we must act together, and we must act now, to encourage data sharing across discipline and geographic boundaries. Support from all stakeholders – funders, institutions, publishers, and the wider research community – could make all the difference.”

springernature.com/group