During Love Data Week, HSLS Data Services gathered stories from health sciences researchers to better understand the “benefits or unforeseen outcomes” experienced from data sharing.
The paraphrased stories below illustrate the importance of data security and thoughtful data management.
There is the expectation that one’s identity would remain 100% confidential when participating in a research study. A breach in data security, identified during a Google search, made one research participant hesitant about sharing any personal data in future studies.
After data sharing, an excluded data point was called into question. Recent staff turnover necessitated a new research coordinator, unfamiliar with the study, to spend several hours combing through documentation to find the justification for the exclusion, buried in an e-mail.
An article was accepted for publication under the condition that the underlying raw data would be deposited into an open access repository. This unexpected mandate cost staff time for verification that documentation was understandable to researchers not intimately involved with the study.
Whether required by your funding agency or not, a well-thought-out, written, and enacted data management plan (DMP) can save you time and effort, and can facilitate data sharing. A DMP should include such details as a description of your data, the format of files, how and where copies of the data will be stored, how security will be ensured, who is the responsible data steward, etc.