Interview with Open Science Ambassador Jonathan Jiang

Q: What is the objective of data sharing?

The objective, or goals, of data sharing is to allow researchers to expedite the translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures to improve further scientific research and applications. Data sharing encourages more connection and collaboration among researchers, which can result in important new findings within the field. It allows researchers to efficiently build upon the work of others rather than repeat already existing research and thus to reduce the investment for scientific research because it allows researchers to share resources.

Most funding agencies and journal publishers now require the results of scientific studies to be shared with the public. NASA, for example, has a data sharing policy that requires full and open sharing of science data obtained from NASA Earth observing satellites, with all users as soon as such data become available. There will be no period of exclusive access to NASA Earth science data. (see https://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/earth-science-data/data-information-policy; and https://open.nasa.gov/open-data/). In the United States, National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE) and National Institute of Health (NIH) all have data sharing policies that researchers are required to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, as well as physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of research work under the research grants. (see https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp; https://www.energy.gov/datamanagement/doe-policy-digital-research-data-management; https://grants.nih.gov/policy/sharing.htm).

Q: What are the benefits to researchers?

Data sharing benefits the researcher, research sponsors, data repositories, the scientific community, as well as the public. Data sharing is the key for open science, it can lead to more and better connection, collaboration, increased confidence in findings and goodwill between the researchers. It also leads to better decision making by policy makers.

Q: How to share data effectively?

In order to encourage data sharing and prevent the loss or corruption of data, many funding agencies (e.g. NASA), universities or institutes (e.g. Caltech), journals and publishers (e.g. Wiley) have established data archiving platforms or repositories. The best practices for data sharing by researchers include:

  1. Data Documentation: Describe the data content and process thoroughly and thus makes easier for others to see the data, understand its content, and encourage collaboration.
  2. Data Storage: Store the data in a repository that can be easily accessed and thus makes them easier to share.
  3. Data Discovery: Make the data discoverable by publishing the data in data portals, advertise the data online through social media and blogs, and use specific keywords and tags that make the data more likely to be found in search engines.