The Conundrum of Sharing Research Data

Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, pp. 1-40, 2011

40 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2019

See all articles by Christine L. Borgman

Christine L. Borgman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 21, 2011


The deluge of research data has excited researchers, policy makers, and the general public. Not only might research be reproducible, but new questions can be asked, with great benefit to research, innovation, education, and the citizenry. However, very little data is being shared, despite the best efforts of funding agencies and journals. This article explores the complexities of data, research practices, innovation, incentives, economics, intellectual property, and public policy associated with the data sharing conundrum – “an intricate and difficult problem.” Research data take many forms, are collected for many purposes, via many approaches, and often are difficult to interpret once removed from their initial context. Rationales for sharing data vary along two dimensions: whether motivated by research concerns or by leveraging public investments, and whether intended to serve the interests of researchers who produce data or the interests of potential re-users of data. Four rationales for sharing research data are identified and positioned on these dimensions. Researchers’ incentives to share their data depend not only on these rationales, but on characteristics of their data and research practices, funding agency policies, and resources for data management. Much more is understood about why researchers do not share data than about when, why, and how researchers do share data, or about when, how, and why researchers or the public reuse data. The model and research agenda are illustrated with examples from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Requested citation to this version: Borgman, Christine L. (2011, submitted). The conundrum of sharing research data. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Keywords: data, policy, infrastructure, digital curation, funding agencies, data management plans

Suggested Citation

Borgman, Christine L., The Conundrum of Sharing Research Data (June 21, 2011). Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, pp. 1-40, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Christine L. Borgman (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States


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