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Research Data Management: Data Sharing & Publishing

This library guide outlines the basics of data management and creating a data management plan.

Sharing Data

Data sharing is mandated by many a growing number of funding agencies, foundations, and journals. There are many benefits of data sharing to individual researchers and the research community.

Sharing data:

  • Promotes new discoveries
  • Increases research impact and citation rates
  • Supports validation and replication
  • Enhances collaboration
  • Increases returns from public investment
  • Reduces redundant research

Researchers should consider the legal and ethical issues involved in sharing (e.g. do they have consent to share participant data?). Please see more under Research Ethics - Publishing & Sharing Sensitive Data

They should also consider the potential for reusability of their data, as well as whether outsiders will be able to understand the data. There are some potential drawbacks to sharing. Ensuring data is fit to share may be time-intensive. Others could misuse or misrepresent a dataset. Data released in the middle of a project may not have undergone sufficient quality assurance. There may be an overlap of publications if data are released during or immediately following a research project.

Sharing Data

  • Public investment
  • Required by publishers/funders
  • Inform new research
  • Maximize transparency
  • Increase impact
  • Reduce duplication effort
  • Provide credit to researcher
  • Researcher and team
  • Scientific communities
  • Students
  • Public
  • Funding agencies
  • Informal
  • Supplemental
  • Repository - for example, the UnisaIR - see the box below
  • During a project
  • Immediately after a project
  • Given time after a project
  • Raw Data
  • Processed data
  • Software/scripts used
  • Documentation

How to Share Data

For researchers, there are a number of ways for sharing datasets beyond their own research teams.

  • Depositing data in a disciplinary repository
  • Depositing data in the UnisaIR,  the University of South Africa's institutional repository or any other respository
  • Publishing in a data journal - see the Integrated SCM & Project Management Trac List of Data Journals
  • Submitting data with a journal article as a supplemental file or repository that the journal publisher requires/recommends
  • Using a personal or research group website, wiki, blog, or other web-based tool (note that these tools may be effective in the short term but should not be viewed as solutions for long-term sharing and preservation)

Early in a project, researchers should determine whether there are any institutional, funder, or legal restrictions that would prevent or place conditions on the sharing of their data. For example, in order to share some types of data, you may be required to develop a Data Use Agreement that is signed by the Unisa Research Office.

See examples of Data Use Agreements (DUA) should you need more information on this possible requirement.


1. Cornell University's Research Data Management Service Group's page on "Sharing Data" was a useful resource in developing this list of options for sharing.

Research Data Alliance

The Research Data Alliance's (RDA) mission is to build the social and technical bridges to enable open sharing and re-use of data.

The RDA vision is for researchers and innovators to openly sharing data across technologies, disciplines, and countries to address the grand challenges of society.

For more information access

Preparing Your Data for Sharing

Data creators may have to format, describe, clean, and de-identify their data to ensure that other researchers will find the datasets useful and understandable and in order to protect, if applicable, the privacy of human subjects.

The UK Data Archive offers guidance on "Preparing data for deposit" that is a good starting point for researchers who are sharing their data with other researchers and who are publishing their data through deposit in a data repository. Researchers should follow any instructions that journal publishers and repositories provide on readying their data for deposit.

The Unisa Institutional Repository - UnisaIR

 The Unisa Library's Institutional Repository - UnisaIR is an open digital archive of scholarly intellectual and research outputs of the University of South Africa. The UnisaIR contains and preserves theses and dissertations, research articles, conference papers, rare and special materials and many other digital assets.

Submission guidelines 

Scholarly Identification

Most personal names are not unique, can potentially change, and may be ordered differently depending on culture. This makes identifying and linking scientific and academic authors to their contributions (both publications and research data) difficult. There are several resources available to allow researchers to uniquely identify themselves electronically:

  • ORCID (Open Research & Contributor ID) "...aims to solve the author/contributor name ambiguity problem in scholarly communications by creating a central registry of unique identifiers for individual researchers and an open and transparent linking mechanism between ORCID and other current author ID schemes. These identifiers, & the relationships among them, can be linked to the researcher's output to enhance the scientific discovery process and to improve the efficiency of research funding & collaboration within the research community."
  • ResearcherID " is a global, multi-disciplinary scholarly research community. With a unique identifier assigned to each author in ResearcherID, you can eliminate author misidentification and view an author’s citation metrics instantly. Search the registry to find collaborators, review publication lists and explore how research is used around the world."
  • Google Scholar Citations
    • "Track citations to your publications
    • Check who is citing your publications. Graph your citations over time. Compute citation metrics.
    • View publications by colleagues
    • Keep up with their work. See their citation metrics.
    • Appear in Google Scholar search results
    • Create a public profile that can appear in Google Scholar when someone searches for your name. "