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Research Data Management

The Benefits of Data Sharing

Data sharing is mandated by many a growing number of funding agencies, foundations, and journals. There are many benefits of data sharing to individual researchers and the research community:

  • Promotes new discoveries
  • Increases research impact and citation rates
  • Supports validation and replication
  • Enhances collaboration
  • Increases returns from public investment
  • Reduces redundant research

How to Share

For researchers, there are a number of ways for sharing datasets beyond their own research teams.

  • Depositing data in a disciplinary repository
  • Depositing data in D-Scholarship, the University of Pittsburgh's institutional repository
  • Publishing in a data journal
  • Submitting data with a journal article as a supplemental file or repository that the journal publisher requires/recommends
  • Using a personal or research group website, wiki, blog, or other web-based tool (note that these tools may be effective in the short term but should not be viewed as solutions for long-term sharing and preservation)

Early in a project, researchers should determine whether there are any institutional, funder, or legal restrictions that would prevent or place conditions on the sharing of their data. For example, in order to share some types of data, you may be required to develop a Data Use Agreement that is signed by the Office of Research. Contact the Office of Research for more information.

1. Cornell University's Research Data Management Service Group's page on "Sharing and Archiving Data" was a useful resource in developing this list of options for sharing.

Preparing your data for sharing

Data creators may have to format, describe, clean, and de-identify their data to ensure that other researchers will find the datasets useful and understandable and in order to protect, if applicable, the privacy of human subjects.The UK Data Archive offers rich guidance on "Preparing data for deposit" that is relevant starting point for researchers who are sharing their data with other researchers and who are publishing their data through deposit in a data repository. Researchers should follow any instructions that journal publishers and repositories provide on readying their data for deposit.

Depositing your Data in a Disciplinary Repository

Research data repositories can host, provide persistent access to, and preserve datasets. For many disciplines, there are repositories familiar to and well-used by researchers in the field (for example, in social science disciplines, ICPSR is an notable data archive). In addition to considering disciplinary practices around data deposit, researchers should determine whether their funder or publisher requires or recommends a specific data repository for archiving and making data available. 

For researchers working to locate a repository for storing, accessing, and sharing data,, a searchable registry of data repositories, is a very useful starting point. Researchers can browse by discipline, data type, and country to discover an appropriate home for their data or to find shared datasets to use in their research. Interested in depositing your data in a fully open repository or one that gives your data a unique and permanent identifier that can be used in citations? highlights key characteristics of data repositories with icons that help users to discover repositories that meet requirements of interest.

A number of academic libraries have developed overviews of repositories grouped by broad academic fields. A LibGuide by the University of California Irvine (UCI) Libraries is an exemplary resource in this respect. See their groupings:


Publishing your Data in a Journal

In the sciences in particular, there are a growing number of data journals, which publish data papers as a means to promote data availability and reuse. In May 2014, Katherine Akers (then of the University of Michigan Library and now at Wayne State University's Shiffman Medical Library) developed a non-exhaustive list of data journals, which can be found at the Data@MLibrary blog.

Authors may be able to deposit data as as a supplemental file or files to be accessible alongside the published article online. In addition, journal publishers are increasingly developing policy that requires data reported and used in published studies to be deposited in a repository. For an example of such a policy, see Science's "General Information for Authors."