Barriers to Sharing

Data produced by University of Liverpool researchers should be made as openly available as possible but there circumstances where this might not be possible:

  • Ethical considerations for instance where rights of individual researchers or subjects would be compromised or no consent has been granted
  • The research has an Intellectual Property opportunity
  • There is secondary data that you may have had the right to use but not the right to share with others
  • Data has been purchased from a commercial provider or the project itself is a collaboration with a commercial concern and there are restrictions

To discuss an Intellectual Property Opportunity please email  lip@liverpool.ac.uk

Sharing Options

Embargoes

It is possible to place the data in a repository such as the Liverpool Data Catalogue and place it under an embargo (for instance whilst investigating patent opportunities). However, you must check with your particular funder what their policy is regarding embargoes as most limit the amount of time data can embargoed. Frequently publishers require data to be embargoed up until such time as the papers relating to it are published.

Anonymisation

Projects collecting personal and sensitive data should ensure all data is comprehensively anonymised before sharing can be considered. Prior to collection, you should ideally seek consent from each participant to share anonymised data.

It can be difficult to completely anonymise the identities of those on the dataset just by removing certain direct identifiers, such as name and address. There remains the possibility of discovering the identities of individuals by combining the dataset with other freely available data sources. The UK Data Archive has guidance about anonymising qualitative or quantitative data in a research setting. For more detailed advice on the subject, including examples of anonymisation methods, refer to the Code of Practice on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

University of Liverpool researchers are required to make an ethics application to obtain approval before the start of such projects. Guidance on how to obtain consent is available from the Research Support Office. You should also consider both University and Funder policies on research ethics. Specific subject and funder information can be found in the research ethics webpages.

Go back and get consent

Where original consent was not gained to share anonymised data, you can go back and ask for consent prior to publishing/end of the project. Although, this might not be feasible in many cases.

Controlled access

You may obtain consent for limited sharing between professionals in a certain subject, which may be via bilateral agreement between specific researchers or groups (via a formal data sharing agreement) or via restricted access.  

Depending on your discipline you may be able to use a secure data repository. These require interested researchers to prove their credentials, sign a non-disclosure agreement, and access and analyse data without a network connection. An example of this is the UK Data Service Secure Lab. If you deposit your data elsewhere because of access concerns, we still need to know about it. Therefore, please enter the metadata details and DOI into the Liverpool Data Catalogue.

Alternatively, you can enter all the details into Liverpool Data Catalogue with your files adding restrictions in the Statement on legal, ethical and access issues section with more detailed instructions in the readme file. The files will be securely stored seperately and restricted to repository staff who would only allow access requests either based on those instructions or refer requests to you as the data creator/depositor.

Discovery

Even if you are making your data available on a restricted basis, it is still useful to make sure people are aware of its existence.  Providing a data statement within any publication resulting from your data, with a link to the data and details of restrictions, is a good way to raise awareness.

Having the data in the Liverpool DataCat will provide you with a DOI and metadata with anonymised summary. This aids discovery (as well as providing you with a DOI for your statement) as does having a metadata record in the Liverpool DataCat linking to the DOI of data deposited elsewhere.

Further information

Need to manage your sensitive data?  Use this useful decision tree from the Australian National Data Service.