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Research Data Management: Data Sharing

This guide supports NUS researchers to:

  • Understand the processes of research data sharing
  • Identify the appropriate approach to publish or share research data effectively and ethically

Factors to consider before data sharing

You should carefully consider which components of your research data are suitable for long-term preservation. Here are some questions that you may need to answer:

  • Do the data support your research?
  • Are the data vulnerable?
  • Are the data required for your research but from another source with certain future availability?
  • Do you want to share your research data?
  • Do you need to preserve multiple versions of your research data? Which versions to retain?

You may also refer the following guides when you make decisions.

Researchers should resolve and clarify data ownership and intellectual property rights issues early in the research data lifecycle. If you are not sure if you have the rights to share your research data, please contact NUS Research Compliance and Integrity Office (RCIO) for more information.

  • Institutional Policies: The data generated from any research project carried out by NUS staff or students are the property of NUS. University staff and students must not share data with other parties without first obtaining permission from the PI, Head of Dept/RIC and other bodies (e.g. Institutional Review Board) where relevant.
  • Funder Policies: Researchers should be aware of any funder policies that may stipulate the ways and restrictions on data dissemination and sharing.
  • Research Collaboration Agreement: Researchers should come to an agreement on how, when, and by whom the data will be accessed, used and disseminated in the future if appropriate.
  • Usage of Extant Proprietary Data: Researchers should seek permission from the data owner or producer prior to the sharing the original or derived data if appropriate.
  • Re-use of Others’ Data: If the research data was not previously collected by you, instead of sharing the research data, researchers should give credit to the data producers with a proper data citation.

Ethical Approval

Researchers must ensure that ethical approval is secured prior to the commencement of any research and research data sharing if appropriate. Researchers should always refer to NUS Research Compliance and Integrity Handbook for detailed guidelines.

  • NUS Institutional Review Board (NUS-IRB): All research conducted by NUS staff involving the use of human subjects, tissues, or personal data must be reviewed and approved by the NUS-IRB. For all Human Subject Research studies, researchers must submit an application to NUS IRB for ethics approval or an exemption from IRB review.
  • NHG’s Domain Specific Review Board (DSRB): For studies involving patients, specimens, sites or data from National Health Group (NHG) entities or National University Hospital Systems (NUHS), an IRB application should be submitted to DSRB.
  • SingHealth’s Centralised Institutional Review Board (CIRB): For studies involving patients, specimens, sites or data from SingHealth entities, an IRB application should be submitted to CIRB.

Informed Consent for Data Sharing

For studies involving the use of human subjects, tissues, or personal data, in addition to the consent for participation in the research project, researchers should also inform the participants of how research data collected will be stored, preserved, shared and reused in the future as well as how confidentiality will be protected.

‚ÄčDo's and Don'ts

In order to ensure that research data can be made available or shared for future reuse, statements about data retention or data sharing in participant consent forms and IRB applications should:

  • Avoid promising to destroy the data
  • Avoid precluding data de-identification, publication, and sharing
  • Avoid indicating the research data will only be accessed by the research team
  • State the conditions under which access to the data may be granted to others and whom
  • State the possibility of long-term retention or future data publication and sharing

Sources:

Researchers should address disclosure risks before sharing sensitive and/or confidential research data.

  • Sensitive data can be ethically and legally shared when ALL of the following are applicable:
    • Informed consent, including provision for data sharing, is obtained.
    • Data publication or sharing is approved by an IRB or ethics committee.
    • The data can be desensitised, such as by anonymising people’s identities, if appropriate. 
    • Access control can be applied to protect the research data, if appropriate.
    • Professional standards in data sharing applicable to one's research field are adhered to.
  • If the research data cannot be fully desensitised, researchers can consider publishing the metadata alone if it does not include identifiable information.
  • Researchers should consult NUS Information Technology (NUS IT) when transferring research data with sensitive information to external parties such as industry partners and overseas collaborators.
  • You can refer to our guide to understand more about sensitive information and how to deal with sensitive information.  

Sources:

The "How" of Data Sharing

1. Choosing a data archive for your data

If your project is funded by NUS, you are strongly encouraged to deposit a copy into the institutional repository, ScholarBank@NUS.

In general, data repositories can be divided into two categories (see below).  You can read our guide to find out more details about choosing a data repository.  

Institutional data repository

Examples include:

Non-institutional data repository

National, organizational, subject specific data repositories

Examples include:


2. Data Journals

You can also consider data journals as an option. Besides publishing in hardcopy journals, researchers nowadays have the option to publish their research output (including data) in Data journals. Being one of the emerging publishing channels, data journals not only serve as a platform to exhibit datasets publicly and internationally, but also enable the researchers to share their research data outputs with everyone around world more easily.

Some Data journals examples are listed below:


3. Assign a DOI to your dataset

Assigning a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) to data and including it in a data citation is considered best practice.

A  DOI is a unique persistent identifier for either digital or non-digital objects, whether or not they have any internet presence. Other than giving the data a persistent access, DOI Names are supported by the International DOI Foundation (IDF) and Registration Agencies infrastructure, which provides ongoing DOI services and allows for a high level of confidence in the quality and accuracy of DOI Names.

ScholarBank@NUS provides a DOI for datasets that are registered via Datacite, a leading global non-profit organisation that provides persistent identifiers (DOIs) for research data. You can read our guide to understand more about the benefits of assigning a DOI to your dataset and our DOI minting services.