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Research Data Management Services (HC)

Share your data

One way to share your data is by uploading it to a data repository. Data repositories are online platforms set up to manage, share, and preserve research data and their associated metadata. Some funders or publishers may either recommend or require that you deposit your data in a particular place. Many data repositories exist today, but most are domain-specific. First and foremost, you should select a data repository that has a sustainable infrastructure and is committed to providing long-term access and storage to your data. But, there are several other factors to consider as well.

 

Sharing sensitive data

It is important to consider a broad range of factors in assessing how sensitive the data you work with may be and what kinds of impact the sharing of that data could have. Direct personal data, such as a social security number, are clearly sensitive with a high risk of negative impact. Other data, such as personally identifiable geographic information like a person's city of birth, is also sensitive when combined with more data on that individual. Patterns of sensitive information in your data can compromise confidentiality or terms of informed consent.

We recommend first considering your project's legal and ethical obligations in sharing data. Your project or study may contain health information covered by HIPAA. Research involving human subjects can be subject to IRB approval. Projects with NSF funding have requirements on providing access to data. After considering these parameters for your data's sharing requirements, seek advice and models for sharing data within those guidelines to better inform what kinds of risks are present in sharing the data. Assigning levels of risk to the data can be helpful in prioritizing the confidentiality of particular kinds of information that may be personally identifiable. You can then consider removing information, storing data securely, or anonymizing data.

License your data

We advise assigning a Creative Commons (CC) License to your data to make explicit the terms you grant for their use. Licensing your data is particularly important given the differing legal opinions that exist regarding data creator rights. Some consider data, however or by whomever organized, to be facts, and therefore not eligible for copyright protection (i.e., all data are in the public domain). Others consider data that derive from the act of compilation to be copyrightable, akin to the compilation of words in an essay or musical notes in a score. By assigning a CC license in the repository in which you store your data, you empower researchers to use your data appropriately and confidently.