Ready, set, share: Researchers brace for new data-sharing rules

Jocelyn Kaiser and Jeffrey Brainard in Science: “…By 2025, new U.S. requirements for data sharing will extend beyond biomedical research to encompass researchers across all scientific disciplines who receive federal research funding. Some funders in the European Union and China have also enacted data-sharing requirements. The new U.S. moves are feeding hopes that a worldwide movement toward increased sharing is in the offing. Supporters think it could speed the pace and reliability of science.

Some scientists may only need to make a few adjustments to comply with the policies. That’s because data sharing is already common in fields such as protein crystallography and astronomy. But in other fields the task could be weighty, because sharing is often an afterthought. For example, a study involving 7750 medical research papers found that just 9% of those published from 2015 to 2020 promised to make their data publicly available, and authors of just 3% actually shared, says lead author Daniel Hamilton of the University of Melbourne, who described the finding at the International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication in September 2022. Even when authors promise to share their data, they often fail to follow through. Out of 21,000 journal articles that included data-sharing plans, a study published in PLOS ONE in 2020 found, fewer than 21% provided links to the repository storing the data.

Journals and funders, too, have a mixed record when it comes to supporting data sharing. Research presented at the September 2022 peer-review congress found only about half of the 110 largest public, corporate, and philanthropic funders of health research around the world recommend or require grantees to share data…

“Health research is the field where the ethical obligation to share data is the highest,” says Aidan Tan, a clinician-researcher at the University of Sydney who led the study. “People volunteer in clinical trials and put themselves at risk to advance medical research and ultimately improve human health.”

Across many fields of science, researchers’ support for sharing data has increased during the past decade, surveys show. But given the potential cost and complexity, many are apprehensive about the NIH policy, and other requirements to follow. “How we get there is pretty messy right now,” says Parker Antin, a developmental biologist and associate vice president for research at the University of Arizona. “I’m really not sure whether the total return will justify the cost. But I don’t know of any other way to find out than trying to do it.”

Science offers this guide as researchers prepare to plunge in….(More)”.