TalkBank Principles of Data Sharing

The basic principle behind TalkBank is that researchers would like to share their data, because they think they are important and can interest others. Data can only be shared if you have secured IRB approval for your study and informed consent from your subjects. However, apart from this basic consideration there are several additional reasons to share data and some reasons not to share data.

There are several good reasons to share data:

  1. Principles of scientific integrity require that ideas be put to a test. In order to test your ideas about your data, you need to open them up to others who will either support or challenge your ideas.
  2. Some types of claims can only be tested against large data sets or against comparisons of somewhat similar data sets. To make these analyses, we often need more and more data.
  3. Much of the work in science is conducted using public funds. We have an obligation to the public to make maximally efficient use of these data. For example, the NIH has now issued guidelines on this issue.

But there are also some reasons not to share data. Data should not be shared if they do not have IRB approval. Also, untenured faculty are often under more competitive pressure than tenured faculty. For this reason, they may decide not to share data until they have published the basic findings. However, this exemption from data sharing does not apply to tenured faculty. In practice, we have never seen a case in which a person's ability to publish findings has been limited by contributing data.

Here is an amusing and instructive animation illustrating some of the ways in which researchers often fail to engage in useful data-sharing.