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Research Data Management: Sharing your data

Guidance and support to staff, researchers and students at the University of Southampton

Data Access Management and Sharing

Sharing the data created as part of your research work can:

Enhance your research profile
Promote your research
Enable data citation as well as publication
Facilitate follow-on funding
Be a requirement of your Funder
Be required under the University of Southampton Research Data Management Policy 

Increasing awareness of the value of research data has led to an expectation that it will not only be used by the initial project but also shared with the wider community. The impact of data citation is also increasing in importance, through the provision of data DOI's as provided by ePrints Soton and other data repositories.

Data-sharing is encouraged by all UK Funding Councils. They ask that wherever possible data and data records should be made available with as few restrictions as possible.

Funders may require a document that asks you to outline how you will meet their requirements in managing and/or sharing your data to be included as part of your funding applications.  For example:

If the nature of the data requires that access is restricted this should be dealt with in these plans (see Digital Curation Centre Summary of Funder’s DMP Requirements for further guidance) and in your ethics approval. They may also look for evidence of data from previous projects when considering your application, if appropriate.

The Digital Curation Centre provides a handy resource that provides links to the data policies

Where sharing data is a requirement, the time of the release can be linked to a number of different points in the data life-cycle. These can include

  • The date of creation
  • Any publication based on the data
  • The end or within a specified period after the end of the project

If there are any legal (including IP exploitation), ethical (see Ethics Policy) or confidentiality exceptions to these requirements this needs to be made clear in any data management plan (see DMP guidance), data sharing plan or data deposit form.

Roles and Responsibility

In the first instance, it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) or lead researcher to be fully aware of the requirements of the funder with regard to data management and sharing. All members of a research team should be aware of what is required by the funder for the data created or that they are working with, i.e. secondary data.

Locally held data

As you create and work with your data the University offers support by providing storage and back-up facilities through iSolutions services. The University has developed existing infrastructure to support your management and sharing of research data.  It is now possible to deposit research data in ePrints Soton. Here you will be able to:

  • Create records and attach data files for storage and access
  • Deposit your data at various points in the data life-cycle
  • Set access criteria, during and after your project either to secure or open up your data
  • Link your data to publications, grant and award information
  • Populate your profile page with relevant datasets
  • Safeguard your data through regular automatic back-up procedures
  • Describe your data

Sharing data deposited elsewhere

You may not always deposit or store data locally. For instance, you may be working on a collaborative project where the other partner is the lead organisation. In this case you may be required to deposit data using their services and this should have been agreed at the start of any project.  Seek guidance on collaborative agreements from your contact in Research & Innovation Services.

Some disciplines are supported by specialist data repositories and your funder may request that you use a specialist data centre. The chosen repository will have its own mechanisms for managing access to the data. For data held at other institutions or in specialist repositories, the University policy requires a local record describing the data and where it is stored with a link if possible.

Restrictions on sharing

The nature or source of the data you create may mean there are moral, ethical, commercial and legal reasons for not sharing or for restricting access. Please refer to our guidance in the section below on Restricting Access to Research Data.

Please note that those datasets identified as being unsuitable for open access still require to be held in line, safely and securely, with the University policy.

Maintaining access

Where you have identified that your data has long-term value or that it requires to be held for a long period of time, i.e. funder requirement, you need to consider if there are any implications for on-going access. This may include the selection of format, i.e. format needs to be durable; software used, bespoke or otherwise, where this is required to interpret the data; and the need to give permission for the data to be migrated to new formats over time. It is likely that this requirement will be included in the agreement to deposit in an external repository. If data is generated using specifically-developed software, it may be necessary to provide a copy of the software, noting operating requirements, with the data.

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