“I’m excited that people are now starting to think about data sharing. For the last few years it’s been me, as the institutional data manager, going to people and saying, ‘You should make your data available!’ Now people are getting in touch and saying they want to do it, because they’re recognising they can get more stuff published that they can get recognition for.
It’s also good that we’re getting more than just the raw or aggregated data – we’re also getting the survey tools, the Stata code and the files for the processing scripts for how the data is analysed. It’s exploding out into all the different stages of research. If you’re thinking about reproducibility of research, you still only see tiny snapshots of that. I’d like to do more about that: my frustration is that we don’t have software to document all stages of the research process.
A lot of those research outputs are useful but also ephemeral. If you wanted to reapply a questionnaire, you’d have to do an update of it 2 or 3 years down the line. Research approaches change, the language changes and so on. But you could actually go back and do a comparison about how interviewing has changed over a specific time period – as long as we start managing those research outputs too, alongside the data and publications.”