Funding Application Policies Encourage Data Sharing, Study Finds

October 6, 2014 in News

Policies implemented by major funding agencies, such as NIH, as well as scientific journals can help improve data sharing among life science researchers, according to a study published in PLOS ONE, Health Data Management reports (Goth, Health Data Management, 10/3).

Details of Study

For the study, researchers in 2013 sent a survey to 3,000 life science researchers in the U.S., including:

  • 1,800 genetics researchers;
  • 600 researchers from clinical departments; and
  • 600 researchers from non-clinical departments.

A total of 1,165 scientists responded to the survey.

The study aimed to determine the effects of funding policies on data sharing and withholding (PLOS ONE, 9/26). Specifically, the study examined policies that stated requirements for data sharing plans on funding applications.

Findings

The study found that 65% of respondents said NIH policies have increased scientific data sharing.

Meanwhile, more than 50% of respondents said the policies of private foundations and journals had no effect on data sharing. However, about 58% of respondents found online journal supplements — which include procedural details and data used in studies — useful.

The study also found that:

  • 33% of respondents said third-party repositories for data are helpful; and
  • 39% said repositories for biomaterials are helpful.

The majority of respondents said they always submitted their data or biomaterials to such repositories.

Despite the usefulness of data sharing, the study found that some researchers share data without completing the necessary legal agreements. Nearly 25% of respondents said they sometimes or always neglect to file data transfer agreement materials (Health Data Management, 10/3).

According to the study, “[R]ecently enacted data sharing policies and new sharing infrastructure and tools have had a sizable effect on encouraging data sharing,” but that “some significant gaps remain” and “there is still room for policy improvement” (PLOS ONE, 9/26).

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