Author : Eva Barlösius
Although the topic of data-sharing has boomed in the past few years, practices of datasharing have attracted only scant attention within working groups and scientific cooperation (peer-to-peer data-sharing).
To understand these practices, the author draws on Max Weber’s concept of social relationship, conceptualizing data-sharing as social action that takes place within a social relationship. The empirical material consists of interviews with 34 researchers representing five disciplines—linguistics, biology, psychology, computer sciences, and neurosciences.
The analysis identifies three social forms of data-sharing in peer-to-peer relationships: (a) closed communal sharing, which is based on a feeling of belonging together; (b) closed associative sharing, in which the participants act on the basis of an agreement; and (c) open associative sharing, which is oriented to “institutional imperatives” (Merton) and to formal regulations.
The study shows that far more data-sharing is occurring in scientific practice than seems to be apparent from a concept of open data alone. If the main goal of open-data policy programs is to encourage researchers to increase access to their data, it could be instructive to study the three forms of data-sharing to improve the understanding of why and how scientists make their data accessible to other researchers.