Q. I am involved in an international collaboration with people who are not RCUK funded and who do not want to share data. What should I do?
Ideally (and in future collaborations) you should inform your potential collaborators that due to your public funding, you are expected to share research data as openly as possible. With your current research project you should determine with your collaborator which data can be shared, which cannot, and describe this in your data management plan. If (some) research data need to be restricted, then you should provide an appropriate statement in your publication explaining the reason why access to data is restricted. Effective data management planning from the outset of a proposed project will help you determine if (some) research data needs to be restricted, and to provide appropriate statements in any publications which arise explaining the reason why access to data is restricted. For more guidance on sample statements please see http://www.data.cam.ac.uk/faq-0/data-repositories (at the bottom of the page).
Q. During this research project I realised I had a competitor. Instead of scooping each other, we started collaborating towards a joint publication. My collaborator does not want to share research data. I did not consider this in my data management plan, as I did not foresee this collaboration happening. What shall I do?
In this case you should try to convince your collaborator to share your research data.
The fundamental principle is that published research should be open to scrutiny by others. It may help if you ask yourself ‘If I don’t share this data, under any circumstances, and others question the validity of my published my findings, will I have to tell them ‘you just have to take my word for it, I refuse to share data?’ – clearly a situation you would wish to avoid. Therefore, it would be ideal if you could convince your collaborator to share data that is needed to validate research described in your publication, or at least describe the conditions under which you would agree to make it available to anyone wishing to test the robustness of your methodology and hence your published findings.
If your collaborator persistently disagrees with data sharing, you should contact your funder as soon as possible to inform your funder that you will have to restrict the access to your data, and to explain the reason for the restriction.