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Share your data

Planning for data discovery might seem like beyond the scope of the research lifecycle, but fortunately many data management activities work in harmony to make data discovery a possible goal. One way to plan for data discovery is to focus your effort on discovery tiers. For example, it is usually most important that your data is discoverable by your team (e.g. shared file space). Secondly, you may wish for your data to be discoverable by your department or institution (e.g. web accessible file space or institutional repository). Finally, you may wish to make your data discoverable to colleagues or even the general public (e.g. domain or disciplinary repository). By ensuring that your project is properly documented and that this documentation extends in some form (e.g. text document, metadata standard, codebook, data dictionary) to your data you may very well have enough bibliographic data to make your data discoverable.

Plan for it!

You may not think there is much to plan for, but a strong data management plan should try to address data sharing and data access. Doing so will benefit your grant proposal as funders are increasingly pushing for access to data that is funded by the public.

Data Sharing:

How will you make your data discoverable? Sharing your data can be accomplished in a variety of ways. At the simplest level you might hand off a external hard drive, or use an e-mail list. Maybe you have set up shared file space, and your research team has access privileges. These methods may work for your project, but you may wish to expand and share your data with a wider audience. Here are some options for sharing data:

  • Host your data on a project website (good)
  • Find a journal in your field that accepts submission of supporting data (better)
  • Deposit your data in a disciplinary repository (even better)
  • Do all three, and make sure you cite your data (best!)

Data Access:

What if you do not wish to provide full access to your data? While restricting access to data will limit your ability to share your data, there are some cases where access restrictions may be necessary. These limitations should be identified in your data management plan. For example, during your research you may wish to restrict access to your data to only team members. This will allow your team to work and publish the results of your research before making the data available to others. Perhaps after you have published your research, you require an embargo period for your data. Here are some options for access control:

  • Use the minimum amount of restriction possible (good)
  • Utilize an embargo to delay full access to your data (better)
  • Release data with no restrictions on access by using a CCZero license (best)

Data Citation:

How will researchers associate your data with your research? One of the best ways to get people to find and use your data is to link to it in your publications. A data citation will include the following information:

  • Author/Creator
  • Name of collection of data
  • Date Published
  • Publisher (data center, journal, host)
  • Identifier (URI, URL, directory path)
  • Date Accessed


  • Ames, Barry, Lucio Renno, and Francisco Rodrigues. Afrobarometer: Round II Survey of Cape Verde, 2002 [Computer file]. ICPSR04232-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-06-18. doi:10.3886/ICPSR04232

Finding help at MSU

If you would like to know more about options for making your data discoverable, consider contacting the MSU libraries: