The State of Open Data 2023 report, a comprehensive survey by Springer Nature, is a landmark publication in understanding open data’s progress. Over eight years, open data has evolved from an academic concept to a widely accepted practice, often mandated for researchers and institutions. This report, viewed as a long-term resource, chronicles the development of open data attitudes and practices, providing insights into researchers’ experiences with data sharing.
Key Insights from the Report
- Diverse Perspectives and Needs: The report emphasizes that support for open data isn’t uniformly reaching those who need it. With nearly three-quarters of respondents not receiving aid in making their data open, the need for a tailored approach to data management support is clear.
- Career Stage and Open Data: Contrary to some beliefs, career stage isn’t a significant factor in open data awareness or support levels. This challenges the stereotype that later career academics oppose progress in open data.
- Recognition for Data Sharing: A recurring theme over the years is the perceived lack of adequate recognition for sharing data openly. This concern remains prevalent, indicating a need for better acknowledgment systems.
- AI and Open Science: The integration of AI tools, like ChatGPT, in data collection, processing, and metadata creation is highlighted. However, the extent to which these tools are utilized remains an area for further exploration.
- Support Beyond Policies: With increasing mandates to share data, understanding where researchers seek support is crucial. While over half have access to specialist data managers, most still rely on informal sources like colleagues or institutional libraries.
Demographics and Survey Methodology
The survey garnered 6091 usable responses, primarily in English (77%). Respondents covered a broad spectrum of disciplines and career stages, with 38% in senior research roles and 22% in early career stages. The majority worked in universities (64%).
Recommendations for the Academic Community
The “State of Open Data 2023” report offers several crucial recommendations for academia, focusing on refining and improving open data practices. These recommendations stem from the report’s findings, highlighting key open data management areas requiring specific attention and improvement.
Tailoring Strategies to Diverse Demographics
- Demographic-Specific Approaches: The report underscores the importance of strategies that cater to the specific needs of various demographic groups within the academic community. This approach acknowledges the diversity in disciplines, career stages, and cultural backgrounds, each with unique open data requirements and perspectives.
- Inclusive and Accessible Data Management: It’s recommended that academic institutions develop open data management plans that are inclusive, considering factors like language barriers, technological access, and varying levels of data literacy. This inclusivity ensures that the benefits of open data are accessible to a broader range of researchers and students.
Enhancing Recognition and Support
- Recognition Systems for Data Sharing: A recurring theme in the report is the lack of sufficient recognition for researchers who share their data openly. The development of formal recognition systems, such as citation metrics or awards, is suggested to address this. These systems could provide tangible incentives and acknowledgment for researchers contributing to the open data ecosystem.
- Providing Adequate Support: The report highlights a significant gap in support for researchers in managing and sharing data. It recommends that institutions and funding bodies increase their support, potentially through dedicated data management teams, training programs, and resource allocation. This support should extend beyond mere policy mandates, offering practical assistance to researchers at all stages of their careers.
Integrating Advanced Tools and Technologies
- Leveraging AI and Digital Tools: With the advent of AI and other digital tools, the report suggests their integration into open data practices. Tools like ChatGPT can aid in data collection, processing, and metadata creation, making data management more efficient and less labor-intensive.
- Continuous Learning and Adaptation: The report encourages ongoing learning and adaptation to new technologies and methodologies as open data evolves. This approach would ensure that the academic community remains at the forefront of open data practices.
The State of Open Data 2023 report provides a roadmap for academia to enhance open data practices. By adopting these recommendations, academic institutions can foster a more inclusive, supportive, and advanced open data environment, ultimately contributing to the broader goal of making research more accessible, collaborative, and impactful.