Making research verifiable with Open Data
Open Research Data are an important area of Open Science and promote trust in science. If data are made available, free of technical, financial and legal barriers, this improves traceability, increases efficiency and enables better quality assurance. Currently, research data are often still inaccessible, stored on USB sticks and private storage media. When research results are published to a wider audience with comprehensive documentation, it is easier to check them for robustness and to reproduce them. Open Research Data therefore contribute to strengthening the trust in science that has been endangered in the light of the replication crisis.
Making research data available is gradually becoming standard practice; it is also a central element in good scientific practice and reproducible research. It should be accompanied by systematic research data management, which also offers many practical advantages for day-to-day research. Furthermore, research organisations are increasingly demanding that researchers compile data management plans that give information on how they make their research data available.
Generally speaking, Open Data can be downloaded, analysed, reused and shared by others. The identification of the person providing the data is derived from the licence under which the data is published (e.g. CC-BY 4.0). There are good reasons, however, why open and transparent research data are not always 100% practical. Research data should therefore be “as open as possible and as closed as necessary”; in science we speak of FAIR Data in this context. But the fact that the mere existence of data is known, already represents an important first step.
Open Data offers these advantages
Advantages for researchers:
- Higher citation rates: Text publications for which data are made available are cited more frequently. After all, they are read more often and perceived as being more reputable. Moreover, if publication takes place independently, you can cite the data yourself. This means that a single publication can lead to more citations, thanks to Open Data.
- Important recognition for your research career: If you practice Open Data, you improve the traceability and visibility of your research – and can thereby receive the recognition that is important for your research career more easily.
- New cooperation opportunities: The higher level of attention that your research receives can also lead to new opportunities for collaborations.
Advantages for the science community:
- Easier access to useful data: Researchers receive access to important data more easily. The preparation of higher quality data products (such as indices, databases) by combining data is thereby also possible.
- Use in teaching: Data are made accessible for teaching and therefore also for students, who can learn how to apply methods using real research data.
- More efficient research: The duplication of work is avoided by Open Data and secondary analyses can be carried out. A comprehensive scientific evaluation and utilisation of the data (for example in follow-on projects) is possible.
- Data are archived and retained for future use: The publication of data in repositories protects from data loss and the risk that they are no longer usable owing to obsolete formats.
- New research is enabled: As data that is already available can be incorporated into new analyses, new and interdisciplinary research is promoted. Another person with a different way of looking at things may be able to make an important discovery on the basis of apparently irrelevant data.
Advantages for the public:
- Opportunities for citizen science: Open Data creates new opportunities for citizen science.
- Economic advantages for the corporate sector: According to estimations, the global GDP could be increased in all sectors by Open Data. Scientific data play a central role here. The economy profits from easier access to information and more opportunities for cooperation, and can develop new services and business models in return.
- Public trust in science: Open Data promotes trust in research because the robustness of published research results can be checked and research results can be reproduced.
Opening up and sharing research data is therefore worth it: Those who share their research data with others, support the research community – and profit in turn from how other people handle data in an open way.
Knowledge Base Open Data
Learn how Open Data makes research verifiable: For easily accessible and more cited high-impact science!
Open Data in the field of economics
Open Data has become an important field for researchers over recent years. The increasing number of scientific datasets has led to more questions concerning their accessibility, use and how they are curated. In the field of economics, the increased importance of empirical research data and the increasing free availability of research data is playing a major role. Data from official statistics are being made freely accessible on the internet by statistic authorities, both nationally and internationally, according to the principle of “Open Government Data”. The spectrum of research data that is interesting for Open Data is immense: Research data are all data that are created during a scientific project. In the case of most scientific publications, only a small proportion of the data collected during the research is published in the final publication.
Science benefits, however, if the entire data of a project is made publicly available as rapidly as possible. The fastest way to do this is to deposit the dataset directly in a repository. Another possibility is to publish a data publication that primarily consists of the dataset and its description. As data that are prepared during publicly funded research are public property, more and more research funding bodies are requiring that they are made publicly available.