The best things in life are free but data sharing is not: A multi-institutional study of the realities of academic data sharing



With increasing requirements to make research data publicly available, it is critical to acknowledge and understand the labor and costs required to meet these obligations. This panel will present results from the Realities of Academic Sharing (RADS) initiative, a mixed-method study across six US Research Universities. Through surveys of and interviews with institutional administrators and federally funded researchers, we assessed engagement with data management and sharing (DMS) activities and the costs associated with this work. We found that institutions support a broad range of DMS activities, and invest an average of $750,000 annually in this support, with the highest costs falling on IT and Libraries. Researchers also engage with DMS activities, although many do so without institutional support. This panel will consist of separate presentations on the various facets of our results, focusing on four different institutional perspectives. First, we will discuss the Libraries, which support the majority of DMS activities across institutions, and bear some of the highest costs for DMS support. Secondly, we will highlight the support and expenses of other administrative offices such as Institutional Technology, Research Offices, and Specialized Centers. These offices are often overlooked as primary DMS service providers, but support a substantial number of DMS activities and bear considerable infrastructural costs. Thirdly, we will present the results for researchers, who spend an average of nearly 6% of their grant award totals on DMS activities, with this value more than doubling for smaller grant awards. Although most report engaging in DMS without institutional support, we found some evidence of cost-savings for those who did engage institutionally. Finally, we will discuss implications for practices and data-informed responses at the individual institution level, as well as invite collaboration in future research to broaden and diversify the institutions represented in this initial study.
Date made availableMay 29 2024

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