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Unit 4: Using, Sharing, and Preserving Data

On March 23, 2017, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced its support for the Gates Open Research, “a platform for rapid author-led publication and open peer review of research.” This initiative represents another step in the Gates Foundation’s pursuit of open access research, a movement toward making research data and publications freely available to everyone.


Open access logo

Figure 1 Open Access Button. 
(Open Access Logo by PLoS / CC BY-SA 3.0)



This unit discusses a number of ethical, legal, and technical questions associated with the usage, sharing, and preservation of research data. We first consider some ethical reasons for disseminating research data and findings for the advancement of academic and social interests. Because sharing research data is often subject to complex legal, institutional, and ethical rules, we also explore how these rules affect the ownership of and access to research data. Finally, this unit examines some practical concerns in storing and preserving data and ensuring data security.


Learning objectives

After successfully finishing this unit, you will be able to:

  • Give examples of the practical and educational purposes of research;
  • Explain the difference between data ownership and access to data;
  • Define three forms of intellectual property that are commonly applicable to research findings;
  • Identify data sharing policies for major grant agencies and journals in your discipline;
  • Name three factors one should consider in choosing methods for data storage and preservation.