Publish your data
Public funders and Brunel University London expect data underpinning research findings to be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible. Where there are reasons to protect access to the data, for example, commercial, legal or ethical requirements, these should be clearly stated in the published results, by way of a data access statement.
Benefits of data sharing to the researcher:
- Increase visibility of research (including more citations)
- Find and develop new collaborations
- Improve trust in published findings through transparency and enabling data validation
- Compliance with funder, publisher and institutional policies
- Data deposition supports the preservation of data long term
Benefits of data sharing to funders, the research community and beyond:
- Enable unforeseen reuse of data
- Optimal use of publically funded research
- Reduces duplication of data collection
- Data published via a recognised repository will be stored and preserved long-term
- Wider public availability of research data supports the translation of research into practice
Data should also meet the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) principles. To be made open and FAIR, data should be deposited in a data repository. Using a data repository is preferable to sharing data as supplementary files alongside the article, or via cloud-based file storage and sharing services, such as Dropbox or the Open Science Framework or maintaining data in private data storage and sharing on request only.
A data repository performs a number if specific FAIR functions:
- It provides managed storage which ensures data are kept safe long-term and in some cases, migrated to preservation formats
- It publishes machine-readable metadata by applying standard vocabularies
- It assigns persistent unique identifiers (e.g. DOIs) to datasets and makes them citable
- It provides a way to control access to data, e.g. embargo all, or subsets of the data for a period of time or permanetely.
- It applies a licence which states the terms of re-use and attribution requirements
You are not required to publish all the data you have created or collected during your research project. At a minimum, you should publish data which underpin your publications. These might include data used to create any charts or graphs or data required to justify quantitative statements. You can also deposit code.
The following points should be addressed to ensure that your data are ready to be submitted to Brunelfigshare (the University's data repository) or another research data repository.
1. Check your funder and Brunel's requirements for publishing data and your data management plan
Most funders (research councils, charities and academies) have introduced data policies which include expectations on sharing research data. A summary of the main University funders's policies can be found on our Funder open access and data policies page.
If you are not sure about the policy of your funder (or whether your funder has a specific research data policy), please contact your research funder directly.
If your research is funded, it is very likely that your grant application included a data management plan. If so, the plan should contain information on how the research would be shared/published.
2. Permission - ensure you have permission to deposit the data and make it accessible.
You must ensure you own the intellectual property rights of the data or have permission of all other rights holders to publish the data. This will include permission from rights holders of third party material included in the datasets. Information on data ownership can be found in Brunel's Research Data Management policy.
3. Decide what (if any) conditions will apply to your data?
Decide whether your data can be shared openly, or if it requires access restrictions. Does your data include confidential and sensitive information? Have participants given consent for their data being shared? Consider what can be done to make sensitive data openly sharable - can these data be anonymised? If different parts of your research data require different access conditions, separate them and deposit them separately, applying different access conditions.
4. Use open formats (where possible) to future proof your files.
Choose open formats or commonly used file formats to future proof your data files and maximise re-use.
Information on open formats can be found on our working with research data guidance page.
5. Include documentation and metadata necessary for others to reuse the data
You should also aim to include documents that provide the necessary information required to reuse the data. These may include research methods and protocols, lab notebook records, instrument guides, codebooks, survey questionnaires and sample consent forms. It may be more convenient to include these as .txt .pdf or .csv files accompanying the data files. More information on the kind of documentation you can provide can be found on our working with research data guidance page.
6. Decide whether the data need to be temporarily embargoed
Decide whether an embargo period is required. There may be limited periods of privileged use of data for UKRI funded researchers to enable publication of research outputs and ensure appropriate recognition for research teams. Data which specifically underpins a research publication should be made available alongside the publication.
7. Decide on an appropriate reuse licence
Research data needs to be licensed to indicate what users may or may not do with the data. Licenses or waivers are granted by the IPR holder of the data, so this will need to be established from the outset. Various forms of license exist, ranging from standard Creative Commons licenses to bespoke restrictive licenses. Data repositories will indicate what licenses are available. More information is available from the DCC: How to license research data.
8. Choose a suitable data repository
The best place to publish (and preserve) digital research data is in a research data repository or data centre. A repository is an online database service, a digital archive that manages the long-term storage and preservation of digital resources and provides a catalogue for discovery and access. Some funders will provide their own data centres or have a preferred repository. This will be made clear in the research data policy of your funder. See our funder open access and data policies page for more information.
If a repository is not specified by the funder, there are many discipline-specific and multi-discipline data repositories available where data may be deposited. The University also has its own research data repository, Brunelfigshare, where data underpinning publications or data of long term value can be deposited and published.
You can publish your data by depositing it in a data repository and/or you can publish a paper data.
Publishing your data in a repository (sometimes called an archive or data centre)
A repository is an online database service - a digital archive which provides long-term storage and preservation of digital outputs and a catalogue to enable discovery and access.
If you are funded, your funder may require you to deposit your data in a specific data repository which provides expertise and resources to deal with particular types of data. Some examples are:
Some journals also specify prefered repositories, for example:
- PLoS - recommended data repositories
- Nature - recommeded data repositories
- Welcome Trust - recommended data repositories
In the absence of any recommendations from a funder or journal, you can search for suitable discipline specific repositories using re3data.
Where no suitable repository exists, researchers should used Brunel's own research data repository brunel.figshare.com.
Publishing a data paper
There are an increasing number of data journals which publish descriptions about datasets and associated documentation. These 'data papers' include a link (usually a DOI) to the data described.
The following are some examples of data journals:
Brunelfigshare is the University's research data repository and data registry.
Brunel researchers should use Brunelfigshare to deposit and share data underpinning publications, where no other suitable repository is available. If data are published in another repository (e.g. a discipline specific data centre) then the location of the complete/raw datasets should be registered in the form of a metadata record. Data will be preserved for a minimum of 10 years and can be accessed in an open or controlled way. Published data will be assigned a digital object identifier (DOI) which allow the data to be cited and tracked like a traditional publication.
Brunelfigshare is also a public catalogue of data published by Brunel University London researchers. The platform provides a way for you to find data and for your own data to be discoverable. The registry includes records of data held in Brunelfigshare and records of data held in other repositories, including non-digital data.
See our guide on using Brunelfigshare.
All research publications produced by Brunel authors should include a data access statement (also called a data availability statement) stating how the underlying data (including images, textual documents and code) can be accessed. This is in line with Brunel's RDM policy, UKRI and individual funder policies. It should noted that if there are no data associated with the paper or the data are inaccessible, you must give clear and justified reasons for this in the statement.
A data access statement should include the following key pieces of information:
- How and where the data can be accessed. This should always include a persistent identifier such as a digital object identifier (DOI), accession number, stable web link to the data, or metadata record, with further information about the data and where it is kept.
- Terms and conditions under which the data can be accessed or used, including details on any restrictions. This can include whether a general licence applies to all users, or specific access conditions which apply, such as confidentiality agreements.
Directing readers to contact the corresponding author for access to data is not considered acceptable.
Example data access statements:
Openly available data:
- The data underpinning this publication can be accessed from Brunel University London's data repository, Brunelfigshare here under a CCBY licence: https://doi.org/10.17633/rd.brunel.5446813.v1
- This research is supported by multiple datasets cited in the 'References' section of this paper.
Secondary analysis of third party or existing data:
- This study is a reanalysis of existing data as cited in the references section of this paper.
- Anonymised interview transcripts from participants who consented to data sharing, plus other supporting information is available from the UK Data archive, subject to registration: https://doi.org/10.15125/12345 Metadata record also available at https://doi.org/10.17633/rd.brunel.5446813.v1
- Supporting data available from Brunel University’s data repository at: https://doi.org/10.17633/rd.brunel.5446813.v1 after a 6 month embargo from the data of publication to allow for commercialisation of research findings.
- Non-digital data supporting this study are stored by the corresponding author at Brunel University. Details of how to request access to these data are provided here: https://doi.org/10.17633/rd.brunel.5446813.v1
No new data were created or analysed:
- No data were created in this study.