Making data open

Emma Norris writes on BPS initiatives and more.

Psychology is undergoing an Open Science revolution. Open Science as an umbrella term includes a range of knowledge creation and dissemination behaviours to increase research transparency. Open Data is one facet of Open Science: advocating the free availability, reuse and redistribution of research data by anyone. As previously discussed in The Psychologist, psychology is making great strides to facilitate Open Science behaviours in researchers, research institutions and funding bodies internationally. Huge steps have been taken over recent years to facilitate Open Science behaviours, including the dissemination of Open Data.

Why would we want to make our research data open? Open data allows us to better scrutinise scientific findings and attempt to replicate them, it makes it easier for us to synthesise data such as via meta-analyses and it generally provides greater returns for publicly-funded research. A range of international initiatives exist to facilitate Open Data, including Open Research Badges recognising Open Data, Open Material and Pre-Registration offered in various journals and data storage platforms such as the Open Science Framework and the Open Data Initiative.

However multiple barriers to making data open still remain, as explored in psychology specifically by Houtkoop and colleagues in 2018. Social opportunity (influences that come from friends, family, colleagues and other influential people that support the doing or not doing of a behaviour) for Open Data is perceived as low in psychology, with data sharing not yet assessed to be the norm and a preference for data sharing upon request. A lack of clarity exists on how to ethically and adequately anonymise qualitative data and how to adhere to GDPR regulations.

The BPS Research Board is running a two-day Open Data Sandpit on 6 and 7 February 2020. The purpose of this Sandpit is to i) discuss how Open Data issues pertain to the full breadth of psychology, ii) launch an open call for bids to address these issues: leading to a series of BPS-funded projects to deliver the required resources and support mechanisms, iii) publish guidance on the barriers and facilitators to data sharing and Open Science more generally. The BPS is also planning a range of other Open Science events in 2020, with an Early Career Network Open Science event currently being planned for the first half of 2020. I look forward to contributing to these discussions.

The Sandpit group is interested in hearing about your experiences of making data open. What has helped or hindered you from doing this? Students and early career researchers: what are your experiences in education to make your own data open, or the data you’ve generated as part of wider projects? Senior academic staff and principal investigators: what initiatives have encouraged or dissuaded you from making your data open and managing this data? Please email me on [email protected] or tweet me @EJ_Norris.

Emma Norris
Research Fellow
University College London

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber