Author: Tessa E. Pronk
Among the frequently stated benefits of sharing research data are time efficiency or increased productivity. The assumption is that reuse or secondary use of research data saves researchers time in not having to produce data for a publication themselves.
This can make science more efficient and productive. However, if there is no reuse, time costs in making data available for reuse will have been made with no return on this investment.
In this paper a mathematical model is used to calculate the break-even point for time spent sharing in a scientific community, versus time gain by reuse. This is done for several scenarios; from simple to complex datasets to share and reuse, and at different sharing rates.
The results indicate that sharing research data can indeed cause an efficiency revenue for the scientific community. However, this is not a given in all modeled scenarios.
The scientific community with the lowest reuse needed to reach a break-even point is one that has few sharing researchers and low time investments for sharing and reuse.
This suggests it would be beneficial to have a critical selection of datasets that are worth the effort to prepare for reuse in other scientific studies. In addition, stimulating reuse of datasets in itself would be beneficial to increase efficiency in scientific communities.