Data Sharing, Privacy, Security and Open Scholarship
As you may have heard, the National Institutes for Health has requested input regarding a possible expansion of its scientific Data Management and Sharing Policy, which will likely require a data management and sharing plan as a condition of award. In this memo, I provide background on activities at USC and elsewhere related to data sharing, and convey their significance.
Privacy protection. Safety and security. Transparency. Sharing and collaboration.
These values are central to knowledge advancement, research integrity and research efficiency, protection of research participants, and helping society. All are important goals for academia.
Unfortunately, we cannot achieve all of our goals all of the time. By sharing all data, we might sacrifice privacy or security. By sharing all data, we might sacrifice efficiency in the conduct of individual research projects.
Over the last year, open scholarship (or open science) and research security have both received attention. Examples:
- Association of American University/Association of Public Land Grant Universities: Science and Security Working Group
- Association of American University/Association of Public Land Grant Universities: Public Access Workshop
- FBI Office of the Private Sector Academia Summit
- National Academy of Science Open Science Roundtable
- NSF Workshop on Imagining Tomorrow’s University
- Association of Academic Health Centers: Big Data Advances in Biomedical Science
In some of these forums, the focus has been on protecting American generated intellectual property or protecting innovations that are critical to national security. In others, the focus has been on making research data and publications easily accessible to all.
In the Office of Research we have developed resources and policies that aim to balance privacy and transparency. We are also preparing for new federal rules, which on one hand expand requirements for data sharing, while on the other push universities to protect intellectual property from theft or exploitation by foreign entities, satisfying the competing goals of those who advocate for protection of novel research and those who push for more openness.
Our over-arching goal is attaining trust and truth in our research. Toward that end, initiatives have included:
- Working with the University Research Committee and Academic Senate:
- Resources and guidance on rigor and transparency in research
- Policy on international research collaborations, which protects academic freedom in sponsored research, while establishing faculty review and, for exceptional situations, where national security forces publication restrictions.
- Policy on biorepositories, governing human-derived specimens and data, protecting patient interests.
- Developing a strategy for diversity in research, aimed at making the benefits of research available to all.
- Expanding the set of open scholarship resources at usc.edu.
USC Activities in Progress
Current activities include:
- Developing IRB policy and guidance for use of social media data in human subject research, considering various scenarios for how data are obtained and how researchers interact with subjects via social media platforms.
- Working with ITS and the libraries, we are also examining new infrastructure to enable data archiving and sharing, helping to achieve the “FAIR” principles (data that are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable).
- Preparing updated guidance on developing data sharing plans to reflect current best practices. Through the Center for Excellence in Research, we will offer a workshop on preparing data sharing plans in the spring.
Opportunities for Input:
The NIH request for information seeks comments on potential new requirements for scientific data management and sharing. Please send your input directly to NIH by December 10: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-19-014.html
I also appreciate your emails on privacy, transparency, security and open scholarship. For more information on these topics, see my postings, and the NIH Strategic Plan below:
- NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science
Wishing you a rewarding and enjoyable winter break.
Vice President of Research
Interested in learning more about innovative research practices? Register for one of our Center for Excellence in Research Workshops. Topics include data sharing plans, open access and expanding diversity in research.