A critique of data sharing practices


I attended a panel discussion on data sharing practices in peer-reviewed articles. The major focus was on papers that stated “Data available upon request.” This statement is placed in many journal articles as a condition for publication, but there is data to suggest that authors do not honor this pledge.

Here are some resources that were mentioned during the panel discussion.

Moin Syed. Three Myths about Open Science That Just Won’t Die. PsyArXiv preprint. Available in pdf format.

This article shows a continuum of data sharing options between the extremes of no sharing and all data freely available.

Mirko Gabelica. Jakica Cavar, Livia Puljak. Authors of trials from high-ranking anesthesiology journals were not willing to share raw data. J Clin Epidemiol. 2019 May;109:111-116. PMID: 30738169 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2019.01.012. Article is behind a paywall.

This study looked at the data sharing statements in 619 articles published between 2014 and 2016 and asked for data from the authors of these articles. Only 86 (14%) of the authors provided any responses to the request, and of these, only 24 ended up providing data. This was a miserable 4% of the 619 articles. Only a small number of studies indicated a willingness to share data, but the authors of these articles were no more likely to share their data than those that did not indicate anything about data sharing.

Mirko Gabelica, Ruzica Bojcic, Livia Puljak. Many researchers were not compliant with their published data sharing statement: a mixed-methods study. J Clin Epidemiol. 2022 Oct;150:33-41. PMID: 35654271. DOI: 10.1016/j.jdinepi.2022.05.019. Article is behind a paywall.

This study looked at the January 2019 publications of 333 Biomed Central journals, a total of 3,556 articles. Although most articles (3,416) included a data availability statement and more than half of these (1,792) indicated a willingness to share, most authors (1,669) failed to respond to an email request for the data. Of those who did respond, only 123 provided data. This represents only 7% of the 1,792 authors who originally stated a willingness to share.

Points made during the discussion

The panel agreed that vague statements like “Data available upon request” should be replaced with a request that authors, if they are willing to share their data, place their in a public repository.

There was also a concern raised about using github as the repository. The only reason specified is that github does not offer a persistent address like a Digital Object Identifier.

PM ID: 35654271 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2022.05.019