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Data sharing and reuse practices: disciplinary differences and improvements needed

Nushrat Khan (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK) (School of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Mike Thelwall (School of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Kayvan Kousha (School of Mathematics and Computing, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 7 February 2023

Issue publication date: 13 October 2023




This study investigates differences and commonalities in data production, sharing and reuse across the widest range of disciplines yet and identifies types of improvements needed to promote data sharing and reuse.


The first authors of randomly selected publications from 2018 to 2019 in 20 Scopus disciplines were surveyed for their beliefs and experiences about data sharing and reuse.


From the 3,257 survey responses, data sharing and reuse are still increasing but not ubiquitous in any subject area and are more common among experienced researchers. Researchers with previous data reuse experience were more likely to share data than others. Types of data produced and systematic online data sharing varied substantially between subject areas. Although the use of institutional and journal-supported repositories for sharing data is increasing, personal websites are still frequently used. Combining multiple existing datasets to answer new research questions was the most common use. Proper documentation, openness and information on the usability of data continue to be important when searching for existing datasets. However, researchers in most disciplines struggled to find datasets to reuse. Researchers' feedback suggested 23 recommendations to promote data sharing and reuse, including improved data access and usability, formal data citations, new search features and cultural and policy-related disciplinary changes to increase awareness and acceptance.


This study is the first to explore data sharing and reuse practices across the full range of academic discipline types. It expands and updates previous data sharing surveys and suggests new areas of improvement in terms of policy, guidance and training programs.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at:



Funding: This study was funded by the University of Wolverhampton as part of a PhD studentship.


Khan, N., Thelwall, M. and Kousha, K. (2023), "Data sharing and reuse practices: disciplinary differences and improvements needed", Online Information Review, Vol. 47 No. 6, pp. 1036-1064.



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