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Navigating Data Sharing (#5)

This letter guides readers through the importance of data sharing in research, emphasizing the role of Creative Commons licenses in facilitating transparent and equitable sharing practices. It addresses sharing one's own data, utilizing external data, and overcoming different barriers.



In today's research landscape, it's not just about publishing findings—it's about sharing the data and code behind those findings too. Understanding data sharing is essential for researchers, whether they're sharing their own data or using someone else's. This introduction sets the scene for exploring the importance of Creative Commons licenses in making data sharing straightforward and fair for everyone involved.

Sharing your own data

Data isn't copyrightable, but expressions of data can be. Promote sharing and unlimited use of your data by making it available under an appropriate license to ensure proper re-use and attribution. There are many licenses available that represent the range of rights for the creator and licensee of the data. Two options for providing open licenses for research data are:

  • Open Data Commons License: set of legal tools and licenses to help you publish, provide and use open data.

  • Creative Commons License: provides a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law. Creative Commons is a US-based non-profit organisation which has been a leader in developing legal tools for sharing creative works online.

Creative Common (CC) licences

Creative Commons (CC) licences are popular because they provide robust legal code, alongside an easy to understand human-readable summary, and a machine-readable layer of code to help make information resources interoperable across systems. CC licences work well for both research data and expressive works because they • conform to both copyright law and database rights where applicable • do not need to be ported for use in particular countries, as they are applicable in all jurisdictions.


Sharing External Data

• Licensed data can have restrictions in the way it can be used or shared downstream

• When re-using existing data be sure to clarify ownership, obtain permissions if needed, and understand limits set by licenses

• Be sure to provide appropriate attribution and citation

• If licensing restricts sharing of the data, providing detailed information about where the data were obtained and how the data were analyzed can help with reproducibility

Barriers to Data Sharing

Financial. Financial concerns can impede sharing data, especially if it's tied to industry funding, leading to concerns about commercial use and access restrictions.

Confidentiality. Protecting personal data is vital, requiring careful handling and sometimes anonymization to meet legal and ethical standards for safe sharing.

Ownership. Figuring out who owns the data can be tricky, especially in collaborations or with data from other sources, necessitating clear communication and potentially legal agreements to sort out permissions and credit.

External Data
Own data


I hope this was an interesting read. If you have comments, remarks, or suggestions about other RDM-related topics for the next newsletters, please let me know by sending me an email at

Image designed by stories / Freepik

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