May 28, 2022

New Preprint: The Conundrum of Sharing Research Data


The Conundrum of Sharing Research Data (Preprint)


Christine Borgman
University of California, Los Angeles


Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
63(6): 1059-1078, 2012
via SSRN


New methods and instrumentation are producing an unprecedented deluge of research data. The volume of data, combined with new means of distribution and mining, has excited funding agencies, policy makers, and the general public with promises of discovery and innovation. Many stakeholders now expect data to be released, yet sharing is common in only a few fields such as astronomy and genomics. In other fields, some researchers share their data routinely, others never share their data, and most appear willing to share some of their data some of the time. Data sharing is thus a conundrum – “an intricate and difficult problem.” Research data take many forms, are collected for many purposes, using many approaches, and often are difficult to interpret once removed from their initial context. An analysis of data types and practices is illustrated with examples from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Four rationales for sharing data are examined: (1) to reproduce or to verify research, (2) to make results of publicly funded research available to the public, (3) to enable others to ask new questions of extant data, and (4) to advance the state of research and innovation. These rationales differ by the arguments for sharing, by beneficiaries, and by the motivations and incentives of the many stakeholders involved. The challenges are to understand which data might be shared, by whom, with whom, under what conditions, why, and to what effects. Answers to these questions will inform data policy and practice.

Direct to Download Link (41 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.