A simple tool for neuroimaging data sharing

Front Neuroinform. 2014 May 21;8:52. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2014.00052. eCollection 2014.


Data sharing is becoming increasingly common, but despite encouragement and facilitation by funding agencies, journals, and some research efforts, most neuroimaging data acquired today is still not shared due to political, financial, social, and technical barriers to sharing data that remain. In particular, technical solutions are few for researchers that are not a part of larger efforts with dedicated sharing infrastructures, and social barriers such as the time commitment required to share can keep data from becoming publicly available. We present a system for sharing neuroimaging data, designed to be simple to use and to provide benefit to the data provider. The system consists of a server at the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF) and user tools for uploading data to the server. The primary design principle for the user tools is ease of use: the user identifies a directory containing Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) data, provides their INCF Portal authentication, and provides identifiers for the subject and imaging session. The user tool anonymizes the data and sends it to the server. The server then runs quality control routines on the data, and the data and the quality control reports are made public. The user retains control of the data and may change the sharing policy as they need. The result is that in a few minutes of the user's time, DICOM data can be anonymized and made publicly available, and an initial quality control assessment can be performed on the data. The system is currently functional, and user tools and access to the public image database are available at http://xnat.incf.org/.

Keywords: data archiving; data processing; neuroimaging; neuroinformatics; quality assessment.