Many journals, funders and institutions have adopted policies to encourage open science, but how do researchers feel about sharing their data and are their practices changing? Digital Science, in collaboration with Springer Nature and Figshare, aims to address these questions through The State of Open Data, an annual survey to assess attitudes and experiences of open data within the research community. Key takeaways from the State of the Open Data 2019 survey, which was completed by over 8,400 researchers from 190 countries, were recently shared by Springer Nature and included the following findings:
Attitudes towards sharing data
- Data were curated for sharing by 65% of respondents, down from 74% in both 2018 and 2017.
- Increased impact and visibility of research and public benefit remained the two top-ranking motivators for sharing data; receiving proper credit for data sharing was considered the third most important motivating factor, moving up from its fourth place ranking in 2018.
- Nearly 90% of respondents felt they did not receive sufficient credit for sharing data.
- Credit mechanisms that researchers felt would encourage more researchers to share their data included receiving full citation (61%), consideration in job reviews and funding applications (45%), co-authorship on papers (42%), and financial reward (38%).
Views on policies and mandates
- Support for a national mandate for making primary research openly available was expressed by 79% of respondents: a substantial increase from 2018, when just 18% supported such measures.
- The majority of respondents thought data sharing should be enforced through, for example, withholding funding from researchers who do not share their data or making data sharing a requirement for awarding grants.
Concerns about sharing data
- Concerns about the misuse of shared data were expressed by 36% of respondents; other concerns about data sharing included uncertainty about copyright and licensing (32%) and not receiving the appropriate credit or acknowledgement (32%).
Findings from the latest State of Open Data survey suggest that most researchers are aware and open to the idea of sharing their data. However, there is growing recognition that receiving sufficient credit would strongly increase the incentive for researchers to do so. Furthermore, enforced policies from publishers and funders that mandate data sharing, and improved methods for facilitating data sharing for researchers, are also needed. As noted by Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice Provost, University College London Library Services, who contributed to the 2019 report:
“Open data is a key component of open science, but cultural change needs to happen for open science to become the norm in research practice.”