research data either have not yet been established or are in flux. The recent recognition of the inappropriate manipulation of digital images submitted in journal articles illustrates the need for the research enterprise to continue to set clear expectations for appropriate behavior and effectively communicate those expectations.

Recommendation 3: The research enterprise and its stakeholders—research institutions, research sponsors, professional societies, journals, and individual researchers—should develop and disseminate professional standards for ensuring the integrity of research data and for ensuring adherence to these standards. In areas where standards differ between fields, it is important that differences be clearly defined and explained. Specific guidelines for data management may require reexamination and updating as technologies and research practices evolve.

Although all researchers should understand digital technologies well enough to be confident in the integrity of the data they generate, they cannot always be expected to be able to take full advantage of new capabilities. In an increasing number of fields, professionals with expertise specifically in the generation, analysis, storage, or dissemination of data are playing an essential role in taking advantage of digital technologies and ensuring the integrity of research data.

Recommendation 4: Research institutions, professional societies, and journals should ensure that the contributions of data professionals to research are appropriately recognized. In addition, research sponsors should acknowledge that financial support for data professionals is an appropriate component of research support in an increasing number of fields.


Advances in knowledge depend on the open flow of information. Only if data and research results are shared can other researchers check the accuracy of the data, verify analyses and conclusions, and build on previous work. Furthermore, openness enables the results of research to be incorporated into socially beneficial goods and services and into public policies, improving the quality of life and the welfare of society.

Despite the many benefits arising from the open availability of research data and results, many data are not publicly accessible, or their release is delayed, for a variety of reasons. Data may be withheld because they are being used to generate a commercial product or service, because of confidentiality considerations, or because of national security concerns. Furthermore, in some fields it is acceptable for researchers to have a limited period of exclusivity in which the data are used only by the principal investigators and their immediate

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