Open Research Data

Open research data involves making the data that supports research findings fully available to anyone. This usually involves putting full datasets in an online repository (e.g. NeuroMorpho, GenBank, or figshare). While there is a movement for all data to be made accessible in this way it should be noted that good data management also requires considerations of commercialization and ethics. However, there are many advantages to making research data open, such as higher citations, potential collaborations, and increased reproducibility/decreased wasted research resources.

Open research data should be governed by the FAIR principles: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable.

It is essential that open research data has metadata and Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) and the correct licensing. Metadata is data that describes data, it accompanies the research data which makes it discoverable and usable over time.1 DOIs can be given to datasets and are a unique alphanumeric string assigned to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet (i.e. it can’t be removed or be inaccessible if the website is removed). Licensing may be assigned by repositories but they are usually variations of Creative Commons (CC) licences.

Data needs to be stored in a suitable institutional or discipline-specific repository. The Registry of Research Data Repositories (Re3data) can help identify one. If there is no suitable resource then Zenodo is a good alternative.

Open research data is one of the three major pillars of the Open Science movement (Open Access and Public Engagement being the other two). The European Commision and other funders actively support making data as accessible as possible, where appropriate.

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