Research data are increasingly considered as a valuable research output, equivalent to communicating research results through journal articles and monographs. For information on publishing research outputs please see the University of Salford Institutional Repository (USIR). The following guidance relates to the publication of research data.
Benefits of publishing data:
There are also valid reasons for restricting access to research data:
Research data about people, including sensitive data, can be shared ethically and legally if a number of strategies are used, such as informed consent and anonymisation
The various concerns that researchers may have about sharing their data are discussed in Carly Strasser's Data Pub blogpost.
There are different ways to publish data depending on what your funder expects, or standard practices within your discipline or personal preference:
1. Deposit with a data repository (specialist data centre, institutional repository)
A data repository provides online archival storage, which is usually open access and cares for digital materials, ensuring that they remain usable over time.
2. Publish in a data journal
Data journals are publications whose primary purpose is to expose datasets by providing the infrastructure and scholarly reward opportunities that will encourage researchers, funders and data centre managers to share research data outputs. The data is peer reviewed and made publically available under a citable unique identifier.
A list of data journals can be found here. Some highlights include:
3. Supplementary materials to a journal publication
Some publishers have specific areas to upload supplementary materials associated to a published article. Refer to individual publisher guidelines to find out if this is available. For example, the Journal of Applied Physics has a ‘Data & Media’ tab for each article, and the International Journal of Numerical Methods in Engineering allows Supporting Information to be submitted alongside the article.
4. Dissemination via a project or institutional website
Project websites can offer easy, immediate storage and access, but they offer less sustainability and it is difficult to control and analyse who is using the data and how.
These options allows proper citation, so that reuse of the data can be recognised. Whatever form of publishing is used, research data needs to be licensed to indicate what users may or may not do with the data.
To meet the RCUK Policy on Open Access any published research paper must include a data access statement or an explanation of why the data cannot be made accessible. Many academic publishers also require data underpinning research results to be made available.
Licensing research data is essential for clarifying what users may or may not do to the data.
When depositing data in a repository a license or legal agreement should be chosen. Licenses are granted by the Intellectual Property holder of the data, which should be determined when planning the research project.
Information about different licenses for research data are available from:
You are free to:
Under the following terms:
The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
N.B. CC0 waives an authors’ moral rights; the author has to rely on scholarly convention to ensure attribution.
Typically, Creative Commons licenses are not ideal for software being deposited in a data repository; instead there are open source GPL or Apache licenses which are more appropriate.
To ensure any conditions about data storage and access imposed via the research contract (in particular confidentiality) are respected please contact the Research Contract Support Team for guidance.
For any queries about data licensing or agreements please contact the Intellectual Property Manager:
Tel: 0161 295 2905
Data access statements are used in research publications to explain where supporting data can be found and under what conditions they can be accessed.
Data access statements are required for all publications which are publicly-funded. The EPSRC audit papers which acknowledge their funding to check that they include a data access statement.
Data access statements need to include a persistent URL directly linking to the dataset or to supporting documentation that describes the data in detail, how it may be accessed and any constraints that may apply. If compelling legal or ethical reasons exist to protect access to the data these should be noted in the statement. A simple ‘contact the author’ instruction is not sufficient.
The format and placement of the data access statement will be influenced by the publisher's house-style. Some journals provide a separate section in articles for the data access statement. If this is not available include the data access statement with the acknowledgement of funder support. Alternatively, a formal data citation could be included either within the main references or in a data citation section.
The data access statement should be included in submitted papers, even if a persistent URL or DOI have not been issued. The statement should be updated to include any persistent identifiers as they become available, usually when the paper is accepted for publication.
Published research data may be referred to or re-used as the basis for further research and must be correctly cited in the following circumstances:
Benefits of data citation:
Data citation should be viewed as part of good research practice and a number of Guiding Principles have been agreed by The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship.
Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) – a uniquely-assigned internationally-recognised text code that is already widely-used within the scientific community to identify published research articles. The use of DOIs has recently been expanded to include data sets. Further information is available from the Australian National Data Service.
A dataset citation includes all of the same components as any other citation:
Unfortunately, standards for the data citation have not been finalised but many data repositories and publishers provide some guidelines. However, if no format is suggested for datasets, take a standard data citation style, such as DataCite below:
It may also be desirable to include information about Version and Resource Type. In this case use this format:
DataCite recommends that DOI names are displayed as linkable, permanent URLs:
Further information is available from:
The scope and format of data may determine the potential for re-use, but sometimes the most exciting discoveries arise from re-examining data, or using data for a different purpose than originally intended.
Potential options for reuse include:
When analysing or re-using data it may be beneficial to utilise data cleaning and visualisation tools.
Data cleaning and transformation tools:
There are a variety of data visualisation tools available, but here are some highlights: