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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Science Policy

If We Share Data, Will Anyone Use Them? Data Sharing and Reuse in the Long Tail of Science and Technology
Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Author: Jillian C. Wallis et al.

by Jillian C. Wallis, Elizabeth Rolando, Christine L. Borgman

Research on practices to share and reuse data will inform the design of infrastructure to support data collection, management, and discovery in the long tail of science and technology. These are research domains in which data tend to be local in character, minimally structured, and minimally documented. We report on a ten-year study of the Center for Embedded Network Sensing (CENS), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center. We found that CENS researchers are willing to share their data, but few are asked to do so, and in only a few domain areas do their funders or journals require them to deposit data. Few repositories exist to accept data in CENS research areas.. Data sharing tends to occur only through interpersonal exchanges. CENS researchers obtain data from repositories, and occasionally from registries and individuals, to provide context, calibration, or other forms of background for their studies. Neither CENS researchers nor those who request access to CENS data appear to use external data for primary research questions or for replication of studies. CENS researchers are willing to share data if they receive credit and retain first rights to publish their results. Practices of releasing, sharing, and reusing of data in CENS reaffirm the gift culture of scholarship, in which goods are bartered between trusted colleagues rather than treated as commodities.
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