associates. In areas of potential commercial applications, patenting considerations, contractual restrictions, and technological constraints also can limit or delay the accessibility of data.

Legitimate reasons may exist for keeping some data private or delaying their release, but the default assumption should be that research data, methods (including the techniques, procedures, and tools that have been used to collect, generate, or analyze data, such as models, computer code, and input data), and other information integral to a publicly reported result will be publicly accessible when results are reported, at no more than the cost of fulfilling a user request. This assumption underlies the following principle of accessibility:


Data Access and Sharing Principle: Research data, methods, and other information integral to publicly reported results should be publicly accessible.


Although this principle applies throughout research, in some cases the open dissemination of research data may not be possible or advisable. Granting access to research data prior to reporting results based on those data can undermine the incentives for generating the data. There might also be technical barriers, such as the sheer size of datasets, that make sharing problematic, or legal restrictions on sharing as discussed in Chapter 3. Nevertheless, the main objective of the research enterprise must be to implement policies and promote practices that allow this principle to be realized as fully as possible.

This principle has important implications for researchers.


Recommendation 5: All researchers should make research data, methods, and other information integral to their publicly reported results publicly accessible in a timely manner to allow verification of published findings and to enable other researchers to build on published results, except in unusual cases in which there are compelling reasons for not releasing data. In these cases, researchers should explain in a publicly accessible manner why the data are being withheld from release.


This principle may seem to apply only to publicly funded research, but a strong case can be made that much data from privately funded research should be made publicly available as well. Making such data available can produce societal benefits while also preserving the commercial opportunities that motivated the research.

As discussed earlier, differences in technological infrastructure, publication practices, data-sharing expectations, and other cultural practices have long existed between research fields. In some fields, aspects of this “data culture” act as barriers to access and sharing of data. With the growing importance of research results to certain areas of public policy, the rapid increase of interdisciplinary research that involves integration of data from different disciplines, and



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