Research Remix

August 15, 2008

Does sharing information transform Researchers?

Filed under: conferences — Tags: , , , , , — Heather Piwowar @ 10:35 am

As you can imagine, a few months and an untold number of conferences makes for a lot of blogging fodder. The posts requiring new thought will have to wait, since I’m in the middle of a pilot-project crunch. But to get the ball rolling….

The ASIS&T conference looks very relevant to my research interests of data sharing and reuse. The special interest group SIG USE focuses on Information Needs Seeking and Use… definitely something I should check out. Consequently, I decided to apply for their PhD Student Conference Travel Award. The application required a statement that addresses “an issue relating to the current year’s conference theme in relation to information behavior research (how people need, seek, manage, give, and use information in different contexts).” This year’s ASIS&T conference theme is People Transforming Information – Information Transforming People. My entry statement is below, in case it is of interest.

People Transforming Information – Information Transforming People

Sharing information transforms Research –
Does sharing information transform Researchers?

Research advances when investigators build upon the results of others. This is possible whenever research results are shared at a sufficient level of detail to allow others to understand, replicate, critique, and expand on analyses; leverage is greatest when raw research data can be explored. Unfortunately, although shared raw research data has many benefits for the general research community, as yet there are few demonstrated benefits for the original investigators who bear the costs of making their datasets available.

I wish to evaluate the transformative effect on researchers when they share their data. Do they, as one might guess, receive more citations because their published results have an expanded usefulness? Do they become more aware of other available datasets, and thus more likely to reuse shared data in the future? Do they become more likely to embrace other mechanisms, such as publishing through open access models, for making their research results widely available?

I am engaged in a long-term effort to identify instances of research data sharing and reuse. I plan to address the above questions, and others, by looking at publication patterns, covariates, and data-sharing behavior of various research communities. Through this work, I hope to quantify incentives for researchers to share their data, identify synergies between open access and open data, and highlight the need to evaluate policies and behaviors to realize the full potential of our research activities.

Travel award winners to be announced at the SIG USE symposium in October.

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