Changes in Data Sharing and Data Reuse Practices and Perceptions among Scientists Worldwide

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 26;10(8):e0134826. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134826. eCollection 2015.


The incorporation of data sharing into the research lifecycle is an important part of modern scholarly debate. In this study, the DataONE Usability and Assessment working group addresses two primary goals: To examine the current state of data sharing and reuse perceptions and practices among research scientists as they compare to the 2009/2010 baseline study, and to examine differences in practices and perceptions across age groups, geographic regions, and subject disciplines. We distributed surveys to a multinational sample of scientific researchers at two different time periods (October 2009 to July 2010 and October 2013 to March 2014) to observe current states of data sharing and to see what, if any, changes have occurred in the past 3-4 years. We also looked at differences across age, geographic, and discipline-based groups as they currently exist in the 2013/2014 survey. Results point to increased acceptance of and willingness to engage in data sharing, as well as an increase in actual data sharing behaviors. However, there is also increased perceived risk associated with data sharing, and specific barriers to data sharing persist. There are also differences across age groups, with younger respondents feeling more favorably toward data sharing and reuse, yet making less of their data available than older respondents. Geographic differences exist as well, which can in part be understood in terms of collectivist and individualist cultural differences. An examination of subject disciplines shows that the constraints and enablers of data sharing and reuse manifest differently across disciplines. Implications of these findings include the continued need to build infrastructure that promotes data sharing while recognizing the needs of different research communities. Moving into the future, organizations such as DataONE will continue to assess, monitor, educate, and provide the infrastructure necessary to support such complex grand science challenges.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Information Dissemination*
  • Internationality*
  • Perception
  • Research*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

The project was funded as part of the National Science Foundation, Division of Cyberinfrastructure (, Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) NSF award #0830944 under a Cooperative Agreement. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.