September 25, 2021

The State of Open Data: New Global Report Shares Survey Findings From Researchers

The State of Open Data report was released today by Figshare and Springer Nature. Digital Science (Figshare’s parent) also provided support.

2,000 researchers from around the globe web were surveyed.

Key Findings

  • For the majority of respondents, open data is already a reality:
    • Approximately three quarters of respondents have made their research data openly available at some point; a similar number are aware of data sets that are open to access, reuse, repurpose and redistribute.
    • Researchers in the social sciences demonstrate the highest level of awareness by subject area, while by geography, researchers in Asia demonstrate the least familiarity.
  • Researchers place value on the credit they receive for making data open:
    • Nearly 70% of researchers value as data citation as much as an article citation. A further 10% value a data citation more than an article citation.
  • Awareness of open data transcends age and career progression:
    • Encouragingly, Principal Investigators (PIs) and Professors consistently responded similarly to PhD students and Post-doctoral fellows in their awareness of open data useage.
  • Respondents admit to uncertainty and gaps in their knowledge and are hungry for more information, perhaps one set of critical factors that hold back progression in open data sharing
    • Of the researchers who have already made their data open, 60% of respondents are unsure about the licensing conditions under which they have already shared their data, and thus the extent to which it can be accessed or reused.
    • Researchers are uncertain who will meet the costs of making data open.
    • More than half of respondents said they would welcome more guidance on compliance with their funder’s policy.
  • Researchers are uncertain of how to cite datasets:
    • Less than half of respondents say they are confident in how to cite a secondary research dataset.
  • There are indications that the future will be more open:
    • Researchers who have never made data openly available are considering doing so – of respondents who have not made any data open to date, 44% will definitely consider doing so in the future, and a further 46% might consider doing so.
    • Regional differences exist: North American respondents who have not yet made data open are most likely to do so in the future; Asian respondents are least likely to do so.

Contributed articles include:

Open by Default. Dr Mark Hahnel, figshare, UK & Dr Daniel Hook, Digital Science, UK

Why Open Data Now? Big Data, Knowledge Production and the Political Economy of Research. Dr Sabina Leonelli, University of Exeter, UK

Open Season for Open Data: A Survey of Researchers. Dr Briony Fane, Digital Science, Jon Treadway, Digital Science, Anna Gallagher, Springer Nature, Dan Penny, Springer Nature, & Dr Mark Hahnel, figshare, UK

Open Data Will Save Lives – Notes from the AllTrials Campaign for Clinical Trials Transparency. Dr Till Bruckner & Beth Ellis, Sense About Science, UK

Practical Steps for Increasing the Openness and Reproducibility of Research Data. Natalie Meyers, Center for Open Science, USA

Emerging Policies for Open Research Data in the United States. Heather Joseph, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, USA

Building Trust – The State of Open Data in Burkina Faso. Malick Tapsoba, Burkina Open Data Initiative, Burkina Faso

The State of Australian Research Data – Systems are Ready but Where are the Incentives? David Groenewegen, Monash University, Australia

Can Japan Catch Up? Fostering Culture, People, and Community for Research Data. Nobuko Miyairi, ORCID, Japan & Dr Kazuhiro Hayashi, National Institute of Science and Technology Policy, Japan 11.

The Bird in Hand: Humanities Research in the Age of Open Data. Professor Daniel O’Donnell University of Lethbridge, Canada

Media Coverage
Half of academics confused about open data (via Times Higher Education)

But when asked about which licensing conditions they had attached to any data they shared, 60 per cent said they did not know. More than half said that they would like more guidance on how to comply with research funder’s policies on data sharing.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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