The demand that publicly funded scientific research be freely available to the public and the larger research community (including beyond academia—eg, government departments and non-governmental organisations) has increased in recent years. In line with the goal of open access science, funders of epidemiological cohort studies often mandate that study teams make anonymised datasets available for wider use.
There are a lot of reasons why open access data is a positive thing. Publishers are increasingly encouraging researchers to make their data freely available. However, many publishers do not understand the full implications if data from some research design are made public. If they don’t understand, they are unlikely to provide authors useful guidance. This open access paper that was published in February 2022 looks at the issues and provides some helpful suggestions.
First, the review found that some publications showed inadequate understanding of the characteristics of the source data or had inadequately treated issues of sampling methods and representativeness of cohorts or subsamples in analyses. These inadequacies have particular implications for epidemiology, for which groups under-represented in panel studies can often be those most affected by a condition.
Brayne, C., O’Mahoney, P., Feeney. J. & Kenny, RA. (2022) The challenges of open access data. Lancet. 2022 Feb 5;399(10324):517. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02721-5. PMID: 35123687.
Publisher (Open Access): https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02721-5/fulltext#articleInformation