Journals Library

Data sharing

Data sharing

Why share data?

Making clinical trial data sets available to investigators beyond the original research team can improve patient care, advance medical knowledge and provide better value for money from health research.

Data generated through participation of patients and the public should be put to maximum use by the research community and, whenever possible, translated to deliver patient benefit. Data sharing benefits numerous research-related activities: reproducing analyses; testing secondary hypotheses; developing and evaluating novel statistical methods; teaching; aiding design of future trials; meta-analyses; and helping to prevent error, fraud and selective reporting.

Data sharing achieves many important goals for the scientific community, such as:

  • Reinforcing open scientific inquiry.
  • Encouraging diversity of analysis and opinion.
  • Promoting new research, testing of new or alternative hypotheses and methods of analysis.
  • Supporting studies on data collection methods and measurement.
  • Facilitating education of new researchers.

Data sharing and the NIHR Journals Library

Your final report should include a statement about your data sharing and accessibility. The statement should provide a clear and positive indication of where and when the data will be shared. Possible responses might state that all available data:

  • Can be obtained from the corresponding author.
  • Is included as an appendix to the report.
  • Can be obtained from the corresponding author via the (name of) repository.

The statement should be positioned within the acknowledgements section of you report.

If you have deposited (or intend to deposit) data from your study into a data repository or archive, please
supply the URL so that the link to the data archive can be displayed on the NIHR Journals Library website alongside your published report. Please see issue 17:10 of Health Technology Assessment “The CRASH-2 trial: a randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation of the effects of tranexamic acid on death, vascular occlusive events and transfusion requirement in bleeding trauma patients” as an example of this activity.

Confidentiality and Anonymity

For research involving samples or information from human participants, data must be managed and shared in a way which safeguards the confidentiality and anonymity of participants and is consistent with the terms of consent signed by participants. Data sharing does not necessarily mean public access. Data can be shared on request or via registration if deposited in an archive.

Examples of data sharing statements

Below are some examples of data sharing statements you might include in your report. Please note these examples are indicative and that statements will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you are unsure please contact the NIHR Journals Library team for guidance.

Primary research:

  • ‘All available data can be obtained by contacting the corresponding author.’
  • 'We shall make data available to the scientific community with as few restrictions as feasible, while retaining exclusive use until the publication of major outputs. Anonymised data will be deposited here <link> to encourage wider use.’
  • ‘The data will be made available via <link/corresponding author> within <x> months of publication, this is due to <insert reason>.’
  • 'Due to <insert reasons>, there is no data that can be shared.’

Secondary research:

  • ‘This is a qualitative study and therefore the data generated is not suitable for sharing beyond that contained within the report. Further information can be obtained from the corresponding author.’
  • ‘Requests for access to data should be addressed to the corresponding author or to the data custodian (if known).’