Data sharing in the life sciences : a study of researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Digital research data collected in the sciences has the potential to be reused and shared openly. Several arguments for such sharing have come forward both from funders and researchers during the last decade. This study investigates the attitudes towards such reuse along with current traditions for sharing, reuse and the storage of research data in the universities, particularly the Life Sciences in Norway. A comprehensive survey has been conducted among researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) collecting data on various aspects of the ‘researcher – research’ data relationship. The two main focuses are practical issues regarding storage, sharing and reuse of research data and perspectives on the future of data sharing, issues regarding publishing channels and the usage of online research collaboratories are also covered. The research aims to create an understanding of how researchers handle the data they collect, how they retrieve research data for reuse from other sources and how they imagine the future potential of data sharing. Based on the understanding of these processes, recommendations for the implementation of data repositories are made. The collected data has been analyzed according to years of experience, research field and previous experience with data sharing as well as compared with data from previous studies in the field, in order to understand which factors influence the researchers’ opinion or experience. These factors are again discussed and analyzed before conclusions are drawn. The thesis concludes that the processes of data sharing are far from optimized as researchers today primarily retrieve data from colleagues. In order to create repositories for data sharing and storage, the researchers must improve their understanding of metadata to ensure that no information about the research data is lost. For the researchers to be willing to share their data certain criteria must be fulfilled, in addition, the fears among the researchers for misuse must be taken into account. Many of the attitudes towards the sharing of research data depend on where the researchers stand in their careers; experience with data sharing is to a larger extent dependent on the specific research discipline.
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