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How academic health research centers can foster data sharing

September 2nd, 2008 by dwentworth

PLoS Medicine today published a new paper that provides useful guidelines for people at academic health centers seeking to support scientific data sharing. The paper, Towards a Data Sharing Culture: Recommendations for Leadership from Academic Health Centers, discusses both the enormous benefits and the obstacles to forging a research culture that fosters data sharing, and outlines practical steps people can take to set the process in motion.

Here’s an excerpt summarizing the paper’s recommendations:

Recommendations for Academic Health Centers to Encourage Data Sharing

  1. Commit to sharing research data as openly as possible, given privacy constraints. Streamline IRB, technology transfer, and information technology policies and procedures accordingly.
  2. Recognize data sharing contributions in hiring and promotion decisions, perhaps as a bonus to a publication’s impact factor. Use concrete metrics when available.
  3. Educate trainees and current investigators on responsible data sharing and reuse practices through class work, mentorship, and professional development. Promote a framework for deciding upon appropriate data sharing mechanisms.
  4. Encourage data sharing practices as part of publication policies. Lobby for explicit and enforceable policies in journal and conference instructions, to both authors and peer reviewers.
  5. Encourage data sharing plans as part of funding policies. Lobby for appropriate data sharing requirements by funders, and recommend that they assess a proposal’s data sharing plan as part of its scientific contribution.
  6. Fund the costs of data sharing, support for repositories, adoption of sharing infrastructure and metrics, and research into best practices through federal grants and AHC funds.
  7. Publish experiences in data sharing to facilitate the exchange of best practices.

The paper, co-authored by Heather Piwowar, Michael Becich, Howard Bilofsky and Rebecca Crowley, was written on behalf of the caBIG Data Sharing and Intellectual Capital Workspace (you can read our previous posts about caBIG by following this link).

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