Home > Public Domain Data > Can data sharing enhance your career?

Can data sharing enhance your career?

Sharing data in the form of spatial databases, maps, and layers has been a frequent topic in this blog. There is good reason for our writing about this–to solve 21st Century issues will require researchers and developers collaborating from a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives: Sharing data about people and about our planet is an integral part of that. An interesting article in Nature Magazine explored the ways that sharing data could go beyond these benefits to a personal level by enhancing your career. The article made the case that “open science can lead to greater collaboration, increased confidence in findings and goodwill between researchers.”

The article begins by chronicling the efforts of ecologist Thomas Crowther to obtain data about forests during the 1990s. While some research colleagues of his would not share their data, he was in large part successful; the results of his efforts are now hosted by the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative, an international research collaboration, that contains data on more than 1 million locations. The article then provides a brief status of the landscape of data sharing, including the encouragement and funding of private organizations and governmetn agencies for researchers to share their information along with their research results.

The article then discusses what I thought was an interesting take on data sharing–that it can enhance one’s career: “It can catalyse new collaborations, increase confidence in findings and generate goodwill among researchers. ” Admittedly, I work in fields (geography, environmental science, GIScience) where the community has traditionally been very keen on sharing, even in the days when technology threw many barriers in the way of sharing data, models, and methods. In fact, a study cited in the article confirmed my warm fuzzy feeling about the sharing mentality of the geo-community: “Up to 96% of environmental scientists and ecologists say that they are “willing” to share data, University of Tennessee Knoxville Professor Tenopir [found]. By contrast, psychologists and educational researchers share their data less often, although more than half say that they are willing to make at least some of their data available.” But the reality may not be as rosy: Tenopir found that “fewer than half of the scientists surveyed actually deposit data in open-access repositories.”

The article also includes some sites that provide tools, information and training regarding requirements and practices for open data. One of these in particular caught my attention: Jupyter Notebooks, because these notebooks can be integrated with ArcGIS Pro and even ArcGIS Online. I would also add that ArcGIS Online has become, along with the Living Atlas of the World, a viable and wonderful way for people to share geospatial data, along with ArcGIS Hub technology that greatly eases the process for an organization to set up a data sharing portal.

As with other articles I have long respected in Nature, this one recognized the real challenges that exist in “what sounds like a good idea” with real examples. The article also recognized that “for the open-data movement to progress, institutions must recognize and reward the production of data by considering it when hiring, offering tenure to and promoting researchers, say advocates for open science. “

This article gives good food for thought.

–Joseph Kerski

Categories: Public Domain Data
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