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Data sharing in sociology journals

Wolfgang Zenk-Möltgen (Data Archive for the Social Sciences, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne, Germany)
Greta Lepthien (Data Archive for the Social Sciences, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne, Germany)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 9 September 2014




Data sharing is key for replication and re-use in empirical research. Scientific journals can play a central role by establishing data policies and providing technologies. The purpose of this paper is to analyses the factors which influence data sharing by investigating journal data policies and the behaviour of authors in sociology.


The web sites of 140 sociology journals were consulted to check their data policy. The results are compared with similar studies from political science and economics. A broad selection of articles published in five selected journals over a period of two years are examined to determine whether authors really cite and share their data and the factors which are related to this.


Although only a few sociology journals have explicit data policies, most journals make reference to a common policy supplied by their association of publishers. Among the journals selected, relatively few articles provide data citations and even fewer make data available – this is true both for journals with and without a data policy. But authors writing for journals with higher impact factors and with data policies are more likely to cite data and to make it really accessible.


No study of journal data policies has been undertaken to date for the domain of sociology. A comparison of authors’ behaviours regarding data availability, data citation, and data accessibility for journals with or without a data policy provides useful information about the factors which improve data sharing.



Zenk-Möltgen, W. and Lepthien, G. (2014), "Data sharing in sociology journals", Online Information Review, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 709-722.



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