Incentivising best practice in research data sharing: Experiments to increase use of and engagement with data repositories
Improving the uptake of repositories to share research data is an aim of many publishers, funders and infrastructure providers. Even at the publisher PLOS, which has a mandatory data sharing policy, repositories are still used less commonly than Supporting Information to share data. This preprint presents the results of two experiments that tested solutions that aimed to increase the use of repositories for data sharing as well as increase engagement with shared data. The experiments—integration of the Dryad repository into the manuscript submission system at PLOS Pathogens and implementing an Accessible Data icon to signal data shared in a repository on published articles across the PLOS journal portfolio—were designed to be interventions that required minimal extra effort for authors (researchers). We collected usage data on these solutions as well as survey (n=654 and n=4,898) and interview (n=12) data from submitting authors. The results show that author uptake of the integrated repository (used by ~2% of submissions) was lower than expected in part due to lack of awareness despite various communication methods being used. Integration of data repositories into the journal submission process, in the context in which we tested it, may not increase use of repositories without additional visibility, or policy incentives. Our survey results suggest the Accessible Data icon did have some effect on author behaviour, although not in the expected way, as it influenced repository choice for authors who had already planned to use a repository rather than influencing the choice of sharing method. Furthermore, the Accessible Data icon was successful in increasing engagement with shared data, as measured by an increase in average monthly views of datasets linked to a cohort of 543 published articles that displayed it from 2.5 to 3.0 (an increase of 20%) comparing 12-month periods either side of the introduction of the icon. The results of these two experiments provide valuable insights to publishers and other stakeholders about strategies for increasing the use of repositories for sharing research data.
Incentivising best practice in research data sharing: Can we increase use and perception of value of data repositories with new solutions integrated in the publishing process?
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