Open access digital data sharing: policies, principles and practices

Natasha Mauthner, Odette Parry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Open access to research data is increasingly being institutionalized across funding and research-related organizations through data sharing policies. Compliance with these policies has been hampered by reluctance, amongst many social and natural scientists, to release data on an open access basis. Dominant approaches to tackling data sharing obstacles focus on methodological, ethical, legal, scientific and technological infrastructures. This article explores barriers to data sharing through examination of the changing conditions and practices of data sharing; specifically, the recent introduction of digital data sharing policies and their institutionalization of open access as a normative data sharing model. The scientific, moral and political assumptions underpinning open access digital data sharing policies and principles are examined, and their implications considered for data sharing practices. The paper suggests that data sharing obstacles may be understood in terms of a policy–practice divide, whereby data sharing policies fail to recognize data sharing as a relational practice. In conclusion, alternative relational approaches to data sharing policies are proposed, drawing on the Mass Observation Archive guidelines as a useful illustrative model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Epistemology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2013


  • data sharing
  • data sharing policies
  • data sharing obstacles
  • data sharing practices
  • open access to research data


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