Published 30 September 2020

Research data and open access books

Your book may have research data associated with it that requires management. Sharing your data can generate more interest in your work.

Research data is any information (digital or physical) required to underpin research. It takes many forms and can vary by discipline ranging from measurements, numbers and images to documents and publications. Research data management (or RDM) is the organisation, storage, preservation and sharing of data collected and used in a research project. There are growing research data requirements imposed by funders and publishers (University of Pittsburgh, Library System. n.d.).

Good research data management is crucial for verification of results and to maintain the integrity of the research. Shared data also allows researchers to replicate work efficiently and add to existing datasets (Jisc, n.d.).

Institutional support

Your school or college may have local project coordinators or peers who can help you include costs for data management in funding applications.

Most research institutions have a research data management service or local data contacts, sometimes referred to as champions or stewards, who can help you with the research data management needs specific to your discipline. Support might include reviewing data management plans, advice on ethics, consent, data protection, organising and storing your data, sharing all or part of your data or restricting access where necessary and providing a unique digital object identifier (DOI) to cite your data.

If you do not have an institutional data management service there are many sources of advice available. Examples include the e-learning Foster Open Science (FOS) which includes training materials on Open Science or The Digital Curation Centre (DCC), a centre of expertise in digital information curation with a focus on research data management (FOS, 2018; DCC, n.d.).

Can all research data be shared?

This will depend on the agreements you have with any collaborators or funders and whether there is any third party copyright. A good data management planning process will help you consider data sharing questions (an example here).

Ethical issues around data concerning human subjects may determine if data can be shared.

Some disciplines such as Natural Sciences and Engineering are less likely to use human participants whereas Medical and Social Sciences, which often rely upon human participants, may not be able to share all of their research data due to reasons of confidentiality or anonymity.

As well as research and data management services your organisation is likely to have ethics committees and processes to assist with determining what is appropriate to share. You should consider this before gathering the data.

Data repositories

Some funders require data to be stored in a specific repository (an example here). Otherwise it is recommended that you post your data to a relevant subject repository where it has the most chance of being found by others who may cite it or want to collaborate with you. The Registry of Research Data Repository web page is a good tool to find a suitable repository If there is no suitable repository, or if your research institution requires it, most have an institutional repository and will provide storage for you. One study found that researchers who shared their data in a repository were associated with an average 25% increase in citations to their research papers (Colavizza, Hrynaszkiewicz, Staden, Whitaker & McGillivray, 2020).

Seek help from your institutional research data management support at an early stage particularly if you have a large or unusual dataset.

Publisher support and requirements

Publishers may encourage or require you to provide a statement about where data that supports your results can be found, and in some cases may require you to make the data openly available, although this is more common in STM journals than books. Some publishers have tools and services to assist authors in managing and sharing their data, including the option to publish data descriptors (essentially short articles) of valuable data sets.

Last edited on 30 September 2020, at 06:48 (+0000)