The views, perspectives, and experiences of academic researchers with data sharing and reuse: A meta-synthesis

Perrier L, Blondal E, MacDonald H (2020). “The views, perspectives, and experiences of academic researchers with data sharing and reuse: A meta-synthesis.” PLoS ONE 15(2): e0229182. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229182  

Background

Funding agencies and research journals are increasingly demanding that researchers share their data in public repositories. Despite these requirements, researchers still withhold data, refuse to share, and deposit data that lacks annotation. We conducted a meta-synthesis to examine the views, perspectives, and experiences of academic researchers on data sharing and reuse of research data.

Methods

We searched the published and unpublished literature for studies on data sharing by researchers in academic institutions. Two independent reviewers screened citations and abstracts, then full-text articles. Data abstraction was performed independently by two investigators. The abstracted data was read and reread in order to generate codes. Key concepts were identified and thematic analysis was used for data synthesis.

Results

We reviewed 2005 records and included 45 studies along with 3 companion reports. The studies were published between 2003 and 2018 and most were conducted in North America (60%) or Europe (17%). The four major themes that emerged were data integrity, responsible conduct of research, feasibility of sharing data, and value of sharing data. Researchers lack time, resources, and skills to effectively share their data in public repositories. Data quality is affected by this, along with subjective decisions around what is considered to be worth sharing. Deficits in infrastructure also impede the availability of research data. Incentives for sharing data are lacking.

Conclusion

Researchers lack skills to share data in a manner that is efficient and effective. Improved infrastructure support would allow them to make data available quickly and seamlessly. The lack of incentives for sharing research data with regards to academic appointment, promotion, recognition, and rewards need to be addressed.

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