Publishing your Data

Many research funders require you to share, where possible, your research data when you publish a research output and/or at the end of your project. UK Research and Innovation (formerly RCUK) deem all research data that are produced with their funding to be a public good, ‘produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible’. This is in line with the internationally recommended OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding from 2007, as well as the 2012 report on Science as an open enterprise from The Royal Society.

There are many benefits to sharing your data.

  • It can help you build your academic track record. An increasing number of studies are showing that there is a correlation between open access to data and citation impact of articles based on those data. See below for more information.
  • It enables your research outputs to be validated and tested, improving the scientific record.
  • It means that data can be re-used for scientific and educational purposes, thus creating new insights.
  • It may reduce duplication of effort.
  • It meets funding body requirements.
  • It is in the public interest, where research data has been publicly funded.

More information on citation impact

Studies have indicated a significant increase in citation impact of publications where datasets have been made openly available

Restrictions to openness
SHU has an extensive guidance document on restrictions to openness of primary research data which you are encouraged to consult.

Although the default position of many public funders is that the data need to be made openly available, they accept there might be restrictions to openness, as recognised in the UKRI’s Common Principles on Data Policy, in particular

  • legal, ethical and commercial constraints, which may include
    • making a patent application
    • arrangements with commercial partners sponsoring your research that classify your data as confidential
    • confidential human patient data
  • embargo periods to enable research teams to publish the results of their research in order to get appropriate recognition for the effort involved in collecting and analysing data. The length of this period varies by research discipline and, where appropriate, is discussed further in the published policies of individual Research Councils

Please keep in mind that personal and sensitive data can often be shared ethically if informed consent for data sharing has been given and if the data are anonymised as required.

The UK Data Service has excellent guidance on consent and ethics for data sharing.

All research data that is shared needs to have a license that indicates what users may or may not do with the data. Licenses can only be granted by the holder of the Intellectual Property Right, so it is important that this is established from the outset. Data archives and repositories will indicate what licenses are available for the data they house.

There are many licenses that you could apply when sharing your data. You can either choose a license that applies to your data from the moment it is published, or negotiate an ad hoc agreement in response to particular requests. You can also use a dual licensing strategy, permitting some rights automatically to all users and agreeing additional rights for specific users (such as collaborators or commercial companies) on request.
When choosing a license, you must take into account

  • what permissions were established in participant consent forms
  • who owns the Intellectual Property Rights over the data
  • what funding contracts specify
  • Data Protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office provides a Data Sharing Code of Pratice.
There are many license models available that may be applied to your research outputs. Some of your options are

Data archives may have specific requirements to the kinds of licenses you can attach to your data. When depositing in the SHU Research Data Archive (SHURDA), the default license is a Creative Commons Attribtion license (CC BY). This license allows others to use your datasets as long as they acknowledge your work. You can also choose one of the other Creative Commons licenses or the GNU GPL3 license if you are depositing computer code.

If you deposit your data in SHURDA, users will need to register before they can download your dataset; you may share your data with all users that register or you may require that the PI or their nominee give consent for sharing on an individual basis if the data is of a (commercially) sensitive nature.

If you wish to negotiate license terms with someone, you should seek advice from the Research and Innovation Office.

More information on licensing research data

Data citation allows your work to be attributed and credited. A citation provides the information necessary to discover data and access them. A dataset citation should include

  • Creator: Name(s) of each individual or organisational entity responsible for the creation of the dataset.
  • Publication Year: Year the dataset was published or disseminated.
  • Title: Complete title of the dataset.
  • Version: Optional element.
  • Publisher: Organisational entity that makes the dataset available by archiving, producing, publishing, and/or distributing the dataset.
  • Resource Type: Optional element.
  • Electronic Location or Identifier: Web address or unique, persistent, global identifier such as a DOI, preferably as a linkable, permanent URL.

You can arrange these elements following the order and punctuation specified by your style guide such as APA, MLA or Chicago, or you can use the preferred format by DataCite, the organisation that assigns DOIs to datasets

  • Creator (PublicationYear): Title. Version. Publisher. ResourceType. Identifier

See the following example from the DataCite website

More information on citing data