This article summarizes the benefits of data sharing for research and makes a few common sense recommendations (excerpted below). If our leading academic health centers would adopt these, the yield to all of us (as consumers of research) of our investment in research would grow rapidly.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACADEMIC HEALTH CENTERS TO ENCOURAGE DATA SHARING
- Commit to sharing research data as openly as possible, given privacy constraints. Streamline IRB, technology transfer, and information technology policies and procedures accordingly.
- Recognize data sharing contributions in hiring and promotion decisions, perhaps as a bonus to a publication's impact factor. Use concrete metrics when available.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 plan as part of its scientific contribution.
- Fund the costs of data sharing, support for repositories, adoption of sharing infrastructure and metrics, and research into best practices through federal grants and AHC funds.
- Publish experiences in data sharing to facilitate the exchange of best practices.