"Metadata" is borrowed from MIT Libraries Data Management page and is licensed on a Creative Common Non-Commercial 4.0 license.
"Sharing data" is borrowed from UCD Library's Research Data Management page and is licensed on a Creative Commons Share a Like 4.0 license.
Various metadata standards are available for particular file formats and disciplines. General guidelines are provided below:
Things to document about your data:
Name of the dataset or research project that produced it
Names and addresses of the organization or people who created the data
Number used to identify the data, even if it is just an internal project reference number
Key dates associated with the data, including project start and end date, data modification data release date, and time period covered by the data
Keywords or phrases describing the subject or content of the data
Organizations or agencies who funded the research
Any known intellectual property rights held for the data
Language(s) of the intellectual content of the resource, when applicable
Where the data relates to a physical location, record information about its spatial coverage
How the data was generated, including equipment or software used, experimental protocol, other things you might include in a lab notebook
Researchers devote a large amount of physical and intellectual effort to collect, manage, collate, and analyse their data before publishing their results. Many of these datasets have significant value beyond the usage for the original research, and sharing the data can be seen as beneficial in a number of ways:
There may be reasons for not sharing your data e.g. privacy and confidentiality issues, commercial value of the data. Horizon 2020 has coined the phrase: “As open as possible, as closed as necessary.”
If you are unable to publicly share your data, consider the possibility that you may wish to make your data available internally to future researchers to facilitate follow-on research, and/or to create a metadata record in your chosen archives or repository. A metadata record will describe your data and aid others in knowing about it. In order to ensure this can happen you will need to manage your data.
There are legitimate reasons for not sharing some or all research data generated by a project. Funders who require data sharing will generally ask that researchers justify this in their Data Management Plan (DMP).
It is generally possible to choose not to share research data using the following criteria:
This list has been adapted from the Horizon 2020 recommendations.
European Commission Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020
Sensitive and confidential data can be safeguarded by regulating or restricting access to and use of the data. Access controls should always be proportionate to the kind of data and level of confidentiality involved. The access controls you can put in place will be guided by those available from your chosen Archive or Repository so it's important to talk to them about your options.
Below we describe different levels of access for data:
Data that can be accessed by any user for any reason, including commercial. Data in this category should not contain personal information unless consent is given.
Data that are available only under certain conditions. This is for data that contain no personal information, but the data owner considers there to be a risk of disclosure resulting from linkage to other data.
ISSDA provides access to safeguarded quantitative data in the Social Sciences under certain conditions. For example the user must be using the data for research or teaching purposes and must sign a legally binding End User License, which sets out additional terms and conditions.
This level of access control is suitable for data that may be disclosed. Access is generally approved by a Data Access Committee, who may require that certain training has taken place or that the data are only available from certain computers in a controlled 'data room'.
Most data repositories allow you to place a temporary embargo on your data. During the embargo period, only the description of the dataset is published. The data themselves will become available in open access after a certain period of time.
If you are conducting any study involving human participants, and wish to make the data available at the end of the study then you need to consider from the very beginning when designing the study. Enabling others to re-use your data will mean planning for this from the start of your research project. You will need to think critically of how research data can be shared, what might limit or prohibit data sharing (e.g. consent forms, confidentiality concerns), and whether any steps can be taken to remove such limitations. In paticular you will need to ensure you are asking for informed consent to share the data.
Key messages from ANDS Publishing and sharing sensitive data guide:
Data can be shared in ScholarWorks@UMBC. See the ScholarWorks Libguide for more information or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
For discipline specific data repositories, or to search for specific types of data repositories, see Discover Data, above.