The Digital Economy Bill, currently passing through Parliament, includes proposals for HMRC information on benefits recipients to be shared with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, in order to identify citizens living in fuel poverty. Sharing data between government departments for policy purposes is not so straightforward, explains Edgar Whitley, outlining some of the key issues that must be […]
Wider openness and access to data may be a necessary first step for scientific and social innovation, but as the controversial release of OK Cupid data highlights, open data efforts must also consider the quality and reproducibility of this data. What would it take for data curation to routinely consider quality and reproducibility as standard practice? Limor Peer suggests some future directions to […]
Taking Culture Seriously: How can we build positive change and coherent practice within our research communities?
Change in higher education often progresses slowly. If scholars are serious about wanting to change disciplinary and institutional cultures and not merely to wait for Cultural Change to magically happen, Cameron Neylon argues we need to consider the differing approaches to how certain cultures operate, interact and eventually change. Ultimately, change in higher education requires a variety of levers […]
Credit where credit is due: Research parasites and tackling misconceptions about academic data sharing
Benedikt Fecher and Gert G. Wagner look at a recent editorial which faced considerable criticism for typecasting researchers who use or build on previous datasets as “research parasites”. They argue that the authors appear to miss the point, not only of data sharing, but of scientific research more broadly. But as problematic as the editorial may be, it points to […]
Many scientists are still resisting calls to openly share underlying data. Whilst their concerns should be taken seriously, Dorothy Bishop doesn’t think the objections withstand scrutiny. Concerns about being scooped are frequently cited, but are seldom justified. If we move to a situation where a dataset is a publication, then the original researcher will get credit every time someone else uses […]
A recent study sent data requests to 200 authors of economics articles where it was stated ‘data available upon request’. Most of the authors refused. What does the scientific community think about those withholding their data? Are they guilty of scientific misconduct? Nicole Janz argues that if you don’t share your data, you are breaking professional standards in research, and are […]
Despite strong support from funding agencies and policy makers academic data sharing sees hardly any adoption among researchers. Current policies that try to foster academic data sharing fail, as they try to either motivate researchers to share for the common good or force researchers to publish their data. Instead, Dr Sascha Friesike, Benedikt Fecher, Marcel Hebing, and Stephanie Linek argue that […]
Incentives for open science: New prizes to encourage research integrity and transparency in social science.
The high-profile political science study on same-sex marriage views in the U.S., now determined to be fraudulent, is the latest case exposing the need for incentive structures that make academic research open, transparent, and replicable. The U.S. study has been retracted, largely thanks to the discovery of inconsistencies in the data by an outside group. The academic community must […]
Data sharing has the potential to facilitate wider collaboration and foster scientific progress. But while 88% of researchers in a recent study confirmed they would like to use shared data, only 13% had actually made their own data publicly available. Benedikt Fecher, Sascha Friesike, Marcel Hebing, Stephanie Linek, and Armin Sauermann look at the mismatch between ideal and reality and argue that academia is a reputation […]
Introduction to Open Science: Why data versioning and data care practices are key for science and social science.
A significant shift in how researchers approach their data is needed if transparent and reproducible research practices are to be broadly advanced. Carly Strasser has put together a useful guide to embracing open science, pitched largely at graduate students. But the tips shared will be of interest far beyond the completion of a PhD. If time is spent up front thinking about file […]
Standards for scientific graphic presentation: Interactive figures could significantly improve understanding of data.
Over the previous hundred years, a lot of work has gone into standardizing the way scientific data is presented. All of this knowledge has been largely forgotten. Jure Triglav wants us to bring the past back to life. Drawing on lessons learned from the New York City subway system and the graphic standards of 1914, he argues for the […]
Research funders across the world are implementing data management and sharing policies to maximize openness of data, transparency and accountability of the research they support. This guide aims to cover guidance on how to plan your research using a data management checklist, how to format and organize data, and how to publish and cite data. This is a useful guide for students […]
The Outing of the Medical Profession: Data marathons to open clinical research gates to frontline service providers.
Could greater data transparency across the medical field solve the problem of unreliable evidence? Dr. Leo Anthony Celi charts the efforts to improve the publicly available MIMIC database, a creation of the public-private partnership between MIT, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Philips Health-Care, through a series of data marathons. Data scientists, nurses, clinicians and doctors are coming together to collaborate and answer clinically […]
Reproducible computing with rctrack: Software package addresses fundamental scientific challenges of Big Data era.
Published descriptions of data sets and analysis procedures are helpful ways to ensure scientific results are reproducible. Unfortunately the collection and provision of this information is often provided by researchers in retrospect and can be fraught with uncertainty. The only solution to this problem is to computationally collect and archive data files, code files, result files, and other details while the data […]
The value of sharing research data is widely recognised by the research community and funders are setting in place stronger policy requirements for researchers to share data. But the costs to researchers in sharing their data can be considerable and the incentives are sometimes few and far between. A recent report from the cross-disciplinary Expert Advisory Group on Data […]
Data sharing may lead to some embarrassment but will ultimately improve scientific transparency and accuracy.
Open Data is important for science but in practice can be difficult for scientists afraid of the potential embarrassment of someone finding a mistake. Dorothy Bishop shares her own experience sharing her own data. When you share data you are forced to ensure it is accurate and properly documented. But she finds that error is inevitable and unavoidable in science, […]
A journal article claiming that moderate amounts of global warming have overall positive benefits has been quietly corrected after Bob Ward pointed out a number of errors. The updated analysis now claims “impacts are always negative”, but the erroneous findings have been used to inform a recent report by the IPCC which still needs to be corrected. This episode underlines the […]
Scientists can be reluctant to share data because of the need to publish journal articles and receive recognition. But what if the data sets were actually a better way of getting credit for your work? Chris Belter measured the impact of a few openly accessible data sets and compared to journal articles in his field. His results provide hard evidence that […]
“Re-purposing” data in the Digital Humanities: Data beg to be taken from one context and transferred to another.
While scientists may be well-versed in drawing on existing data sources for new research, humanists are not conditioned to chop up another scholar’s argument, isolate a detail and put it into an unrelated argument. Seth Long critically examines the practice of re-purposing data and finds data in the digital humanities beg to be re-purposed, taken from one context and […]