Data-sharing recommendations in biomedical journals and randomised controlled trials: an audit of journals following the ICMJE recommendations

Authors : Maximilian Siebert, Jeanne Fabiola Gaba, Laura Caquelin, Henri Gouraud, Alain Dupuy, David Moher, Florian Naudet


To explore the implementation of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) data-sharing policy which came into force on 1 July 2018 by ICMJE-member journals and by ICMJE-affiliated journals declaring they follow the ICMJE recommendations.


A cross-sectional survey of data-sharing policies in 2018 on journal websites and in data-sharing statements in randomised controlled trials (RCTs).


ICMJE website; PubMed/Medline.

Eligibility criteria

ICMJE-member journals and 489 ICMJE-affiliated journals that published an RCT in 2018, had an accessible online website and were not considered as predatory journals according to Beall’s list. One hundred RCTs for member journals and 100 RCTs for affiliated journals with a data-sharing policy, submitted after 1 July 2018.

Main outcome measures

The primary outcome for the policies was the existence of a data-sharing policy (explicit data-sharing policy, no data-sharing policy, policy merely referring to ICMJE recommendations) as reported on the journal website, especially in the instructions for authors.

For RCTs, our primary outcome was the intention to share individual participant data set out in the data-sharing statement.


Eight (out of 14; 57%) member journals had an explicit data-sharing policy on their website (three were more stringent than the ICMJE requirements, one was less demanding and four were compliant), five (35%) additional journals stated that they followed the ICMJE requirements, and one (8%) had no policy online. In RCTs published in these journals, there were data-sharing statements in 98 out of 100, with expressed intention to share individual patient data reaching 77 out of 100 (77%; 95% CI 67% to 85%).

One hundred and forty-five (out of 489) ICMJE-affiliated journals (30%; 26% to 34%) had an explicit data-sharing policy on their website (11 were more stringent than the ICMJE requirements, 85 were less demanding and 49 were compliant) and 276 (56%; 52% to 61%) merely referred to the ICMJE requirements.

In RCTs published in affiliated journals with an explicit data-sharing policy, data-sharing statements were rare (25%), and expressed intentions to share data were found in 22% (15% to 32%).


The implementation of ICMJE data-sharing requirements in online journal policies was suboptimal for ICMJE-member journals and poor for ICMJE-affiliated journals.

The implementation of the policy was good in member journals and of concern for affiliated journals. We suggest the conduct of continuous audits of medical journal data-sharing policies in the future.

URL : Data-sharing recommendations in biomedical journals and randomised controlled trials: an audit of journals following the ICMJE recommendations


Toward Easy Deposit: Lowering the Barriers of Green Open Access with Data Integration and Automation

Author : Hui Zhang

This article describes the design and development of an interoperable application that supports green open access with long-term sustainability and improved user experience of article deposit.

The lack of library resources and the unfriendly repository user interface are two significant barriers that hinder green open access.

Tasked to implement the open access mandate, librarians at an American research university developed a comprehensive system called Easy Deposit 2 to automate the support workflow of green open access.

Easy Deposit 2 is a web application that is able to harvest new publications, to source manuscripts on behalf of the library, and to facilitate self-archiving to a university’s institutional repository.

The article deposit rate increased from 7.40% to 25.60% with the launch of Easy Deposit 2. The results show that a computer system can implement routine tasks to support green open access with success.

Recent developments in digital repository provide new opportunities for innovation, such as Easy Deposit 2, in supporting open access.

Academic librarians are vital in promoting “openness” in scholarly communication, such as transparency and diversity in the sharing of publication data.

URL : Toward Easy Deposit: Lowering the Barriers of Green Open Access with Data Integration and Automation


Data Sharing in the Context of Health-Related Citizen Science

Authors : Mary A. Majumder, Amy L. McGuire

As citizen science expands, questions arise regarding the applicability of norms and policies created in the context of conventional science. This article focuses on data sharing in the conduct of health-related citizen science, asking whether citizen scientists have obligations to share data and publish findings on par with the obligations of professional scientists.

We conclude that there are good reasons for supporting citizen scientists in sharing data and publishing findings, and we applaud recent efforts to facilitate data sharing.

At the same time, we believe it is problematic to treat data sharing and publication as ethical requirements for citizen scientists, especially where there is the potential for burden and harm without compensating benefit.


Did awarding badges increase data sharing in BMJ Open? A randomized controlled trial

Authors : Anisa Rowhani-Farid, Adrian Aldcroft, Adrian G. Barnett

Sharing data and code are important components of reproducible research. Data sharing in research is widely discussed in the literature; however, there are no well-established evidence-based incentives that reward data sharing, nor randomized studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of data sharing policies at increasing data sharing.

A simple incentive, such as an Open Data Badge, might provide the change needed to increase data sharing in health and medical research. This study was a parallel group randomized controlled trial (protocol registration: doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/PXWZQ) with two groups, control and intervention, with 80 research articles published in BMJ Open per group, with a total of 160 research articles.

The intervention group received an email offer for an Open Data Badge if they shared their data along with their final publication and the control group received an email with no offer of a badge if they shared their data with their final publication.

The primary outcome was the data sharing rate. Badges did not noticeably motivate researchers who published in BMJ Open to share their data; the odds of awarding badges were nearly equal in the intervention and control groups (odds ratio = 0.9, 95% CI [0.1, 9.0]). Data sharing rates were low in both groups, with just two datasets shared in each of the intervention and control groups.

The global movement towards open science has made significant gains with the development of numerous data sharing policies and tools.

What remains to be established is an effective incentive that motivates researchers to take up such tools to share their data.

URL : Did awarding badges increase data sharing in BMJ Open? A randomized controlled trial


Research data sharing during the Zika virus public health emergency

Authors : Vanessa de Arruda Jorge, Sarita Albagli


In a public health emergency, sharing of research data is acknowledged as essential to manage treatment and control of the disease. The objective of this study was to examine how researchers reacted during the Zika virus emergency in Brazil.


A literature review examined both unpublished reports and the published literature. Interviews were conducted with eleven researchers (from a sample of sixteen) in the Renezika network. Questions concerned sources of data used for research on the Zika virus, where this data was obtained, and what requirements by funding agencies influenced how data generated was shared – and how open the degree of sharing was.


A content analysis matrix was developed based on the results of the interviews. The data were organised acording to categories, subcategories, records units and frequency of records units.


Researchers stressed the importance of access to issue samples as well as pure research data. Collaboration – and publication – increased but also depended on trust in existing networks. Researchers were aware that many agencies and publishers required the deposit of research data in repositories – and several options existed for Zika research.


The findings show that research data were shared, but not necessarily as open data. Trust was necessary between researchers, and researchers in developing countries needed to be assured about their rights and ownership of data, and publications using that data.


A Realistic Guide to Making Data Available Alongside Code to Improve Reproducibility

Authors : Nicholas J Tierney, Karthik Ram

Data makes science possible. Sharing data improves visibility, and makes the research process transparent. This increases trust in the work, and allows for independent reproduction of results.

However, a large proportion of data from published research is often only available to the original authors. Despite the obvious benefits of sharing data, and scientists’ advocating for the importance of sharing data, most advice on sharing data discusses its broader benefits, rather than the practical considerations of sharing.

This paper provides practical, actionable advice on how to actually share data alongside research. The key message is sharing data falls on a continuum, and entering it should come with minimal barriers.