... Recently I was reading about efforts related to data sharing: technological infrastructure, curation, educating researchers, and the like. I was struck by the thought that most of the advocacy for data sharing boils down to an exhortation to stick it in a digital repository.
This seems a bit odd considering that much of what propels science is the pressure to publish (written) results (in journals, conferences, monographs, etc.). There is a hierarchy of venues in terms of prestige, which is in turn linked to research funding, promotion, public attention (media coverage, policy influence), etc.
Might the best way to get researchers to share data be to create a similar system for datasets? It might provide a compelling incentive.
Moreover, publishing might provide a compelling incentive to the related issue of data curation (making data understandable / usable to others, e.g. through formatting, annotation, etc.). ...
This doesn’t seem so outlandish to me. There are similar efforts to provide publication fora for materials which were not traditionally unpublished (we might say undersupplied), such as negative results and experimental techniques. ...
There are other ways to skin the same cat. One option would be to build alternative systems for conferring recognition (e.g. awards, metrics for contributions to shared datasets, etc.). The other approach is to make data sharing a more enforceable part of other scientific endeavors, e.g. mandatory as a condition of research funding, mandatory as a condition of publication (of written results) in a journal, etc. I think multiple approaches will yield the best result. It seems to me that creating “journals” (or some other name) for “publishing” datasets could be a useful way to spur participation. ...
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.