Benefits of Archiving and Sharing Data

Supporting information

This material is based on contributions from many members of the LTER Information Management Committee.

  1. DOCUMENT AUTHORSHIP & GET CREDIT – Putting data in an archive clarifies who should receive credit in the form of citation or co-authorship when others use the data. Prior publication of data in an archive can help protect a data author from having their data misattributed. Moreover, because dates of contributions are logged, priority based on date and time can be documented. Researchers who share data via an archive are more likely to be cited or asked to be co-authors on publications using the data.
  2. ENABLE NEW SCIENCE – Without data, science is just philosophy. Many theories require data beyond the capabilities of any single individual to collect them, so sharing data in archives advances the science as a whole by helping provide the needed data resources.
  3. MEET REQUIREMENTS – Journals are increasingly requiring submission of supporting data with journal publications. Similarly funding agencies are increasingly requiring evidence of data sharing in prior-support sections.
  4. PRESERVE DATA – Data in an archive have extra consistency checks and have versions tracked. Without such steps data corruption (computer errors and inadvertent edits) can go undetected. Moreover, it is easy to base analyses on different versions of a dataset without being aware of it. Development of formal versions and quality indicators, such as checksums, avoid these problems.
  5. REUSE YOUR DATA – It is common for researchers to return to old datasets they, themselves, collected in the past in order to apply them to new theories. However, if the data are not properly archived, with suitable metadata the data can quickly become unreadable (due to data file format changes, computer glitches) or uninterpretable –even by the researcher who originally collected the data.
  6. SAVE TIME – The most frequent users of data are the subsequent graduate students of the same major professor. If the data are not archived, the professor must repeatedly locate the data on their computer (or worse yet, request it from former students) and explain the format and content to each subsequent student. By archiving the data once, while the details are still fresh, the professor saves time. They can just refer new students to the archive.
  7. SHARE DATA – Benefits your scientific career.
  8. TRUST – Surveys have shown that public trust in scientific research is enhanced when the supporting data is made available.


Supporting Information


  • M.A. Parsons, R. Duerr, J.-B. Minster (2010) Data citation and peer-review. EOS 91, 297-298, doi: 10.1029/2010EO340001.
  • H.A. Piwowar, W.W. Chapman (2010) Public sharing of research datasets: a pilot study of associations. Journal of Informatics 4, pp. 148-156, doi: 10.1016/j.joi.2009.11.010.
  • Duke, C.S., Porter, J.H. (2013) The ethics of data sharing and reuse in biology. BioScience 63, 483-489, doi: 10.1525/bio.2013.63.6.10.


  • Hampton, S.E., Strasser, C.A., Tewksbury, J.J., Gram, W.K., Budden, A.E., Batcheller, A.L., Duke, C.S., Porter, J.H. (2013) Big data and the future of ecology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11, 156-162, doi: 10.1890/120103.
  • Magnuson, J.J. (1990) Long-term ecological research and the invisible present. BioScience 40, 495-501, doi: 10.2307/1311317.
  • Anonymous (2009) Data’s shameful neglect. Nature 461, 145, doi: 10.1038/461145a.
  • Nelson, B. (2009) Data sharing: Empty archives. Nature 461, 160-163, doi: 10.1038/461160a.


  • Whitlock, M.C., McPeek, M.A., Rausher, M.D., Rieseberg, L., Moore, A.J. (2010) Data archiving. The American Naturalist 175, 145-146, doi: 10.1086/650340.
  • NSF: “Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing.”




  • “When Americans gauge the kinds of things that would influence their faith in scientific findings, their verdict is clear: Open public access to data and independent committee reviews inspire the most confidence in scientists and boost their trust in research findings.”
  • Nosek, B., Alter, G., Banks, G., Borsboom, D., Bowman, S., Breckler, S., Buck, S., Chambers, C., Chin, G., Christensen, G. (2015) Promoting an open research culture: Author guidelines for journals could help to promote transparency, openness, and reproducibility. Science 348, 1422, doi: 10.1126/science.aab2374.