Authors are increasingly finding that sharing data is no longer an activity hastily brought about at the early stage of a research project to enable the ‘proper’ work of research analysis to begin. Many journals require information about access to the data used, which may mean authors need to know who owns it and how to share it. EPSRC also expects published research papers to include a short statement describing how and on what terms any supporting research data may be accessed (Policy Framework 2011) and it has announced that it would like to see the expectation met by 1 May 2015.
Most ARCC research projects share data to some extent, because projects are multi-institutional. Different universities have a variety of approaches and external partner organisations may have commercial sensitivities, security issues and/or licensing requirements. ARCC has experience of sharing data to great effect. A project may use data from an external institution to initiate a model written by a university to be run at another under scenarios created somewhere else. The result can be the application of the model to a wider range of policy questions or operational decisions than a single institution could achieve.
Systematic approaches to data sharing help in several ways. They can aid citation of data, help other researchers use the data after its creator has moved on, and build effective working relationships with external data suppliers. It’s even possible to publish data directly, and so get credit for the working of creating the data itself, such us through Earth System Science Data which has been running since 2008, and RMetS’s Geoscience Data Journal. Nature is now getting in on the act with ‘Scientific Data’.
As the Data & Information Strategy Officer for the ARCC Coordination Network I am investigating:
- What data ARCC projects have created, who owns them and where they are stored
- Current practices and drivers of research data management
- Alternatives and their benefits as well as the effort required to deliver them
- Successful examples of portals, repositories and catalogues
I would be pleased to hear from researchers and stakeholders in EPSRC-funded projects on the built environment and infrastructure, about data sharing successes or problems. The successes will be evidence of what works for developing ARCC’s future data and information management strategy. As my investigations progress, I intend to become increasingly able to give advice on solving the problems.