Collecting and disseminating data is an integral part to the process of every researcher’s experiments. Sharing data between peers is a common practice with many benefits, but also a lot of controversy surrounding it. Scholars typically believe that the advantages outweigh the cons that have come with the evolution of data management and sharing with the Digital Era, but many of these obstacles prevent this from being a seamless, universal application.
Inherent, important factors like cultural differences frequently stand in the way of making data sharing and management practices commonplace. By simplifying these obstacles and overcoming these differences, scholarly effectiveness through collaborating with data could be enhanced and a better impact on society and academics may be achieved.
How Data Sharing is Beneficial
There are many policies and procedures that a researcher has to follow in order to meet data-sharing requirements for journals, data management plans, and institutional guidelines. These are all necessary to keep data safe and secure. Being able to share data is a complex, time-consuming process for researchers, but the benefits are considered to be so numerous that most scholars are willing to comply with all of the macro and micro requirements.
When researchers share data amongst other experts, they are more likely to receive the credit for their work on a wider basis. Editors, reviewers, and researchers can understand the original work more thoroughly when it’s disseminated to a wider network to be analyzed, synthesized, and used in other ways.
Additionally, data sharing allows the original work to be reproduced, which is integral to the scholar’s reputation. Once the work is understood on a reproducible level, collaborative opportunities open up, the original research visibility is enhanced, and the researcher and the scientific outcome are both more easily discovered by the audience, publishers, and stakeholders. This goes hand-in-hand with a higher citation rate of the published research articles, which is, ultimately, one of the most important factors in a scholar’s reputation.
The Challenges to Data Sharing Through a Cultural Lens
Supporting researchers in the goal of sharing data and encouraging strong data management practices is necessary across all institutions, but it’s an endeavor that requires a vast array of understanding through multiple lenses, like cultural views. It goes beyond creating new programs or adjusting guidelines. It must be addressed on an individual level.
When it comes to barriers that are keeping researchers from sharing data because of their cultural practices or the differences in cultural beliefs in a collaborative research effort, some of the most common concerns include psychological mentalities such as:
● Sharing data is not something most researchers in the specific field do regularly, and therefore, it’s possible that the individual considering the need to do so would not feel comfortable with the request.
● Sharing data is something only done when it is requested by an outside party and only then agreed upon if the request is significantly necessary.
● The practice of sharing data requires too much effort and is time-consuming; therefore, it’s not worth doing.
● The practice of sharing data is controversial and until it is universally approved, it’s not something the researcher is comfortable with doing.
● Privacy is a hard limit in many cultures, and sharing data is considered invading that private space.
These cultural, psychological barriers are difficult to overcome because they are based on the individual person’s beliefs. No guidelines or infrastructure reshaping can force someone to change their mind about something they have strong feelings about, and this impacts how data sharing is performed.
To simplify these cultural obstacles, more understanding has to be generated. To this end, some companies are implementing programs like data stewardship in which the policies and procedures for data sharing are explained and researchers are aided in their quest to a full confidence in the practice.