The National Science Foundation (NSF) started to require a data management plan for each new proposal. The data management plan will require investigators to make their data (including figures, tables, and code) available to encourage collaboration. An excellent idea! They specifically mention that investigators are required to document their data–not just make it available–so that others could use it, thus creating new opportunities for scientific research. NSF’s data management plan is similar to NIH’s public access plan, which requires that publications from NIH-funded research are publicly available through Pubmed Central with twelve months of publication.
The research world is moving toward a place where investigators are required to share data and code. I once wrote about my insecurities surrounding sharing my code. While I don’t have insecurities about sharing my data (except trying to find extra time to document data better), I do need to think about creating a system for posting my research materials. I’m not sure what the solution should look like.
What is the best place online for sharing research materials? How should code be stored and formatted? Tables, figures, data, and code have different formats. It’s best if they are all stored (or accessed) in the same location.
My university does not have the best tools for sharing data (at least not that I know of). Just updating my web site is a pain. I use my university’s BlackBoard page for my research group that contains my code, papers, references, slides, and whatever else I get tired of emailing students. However, my BlackBoard site is a closed system that does not allow guests even at my university to have access, so it cannot be used to share data to the public.
Dropbox may be a good place to store many documents, given that a separate page links to all of the stored data, although I am loathe to use my precious Dropbox space for storing data. Slideshare and Scribd are good places for sharing slides and technical reports, respectively. Code can be zipped and uploaded elsewhere. But having to store each type of file in a different account on a different site would not exactly facilitate sharing information with others (and no fun for me to keep track of all the different logins and passwords), but I could create a Google Sites page to manage the information so that it can be accessed from a single page.
How do you share your data? How do you find time to document your data?