Data Sharing in Low-resourced Research Environments
Taylor & Francis
Reason for embargo
‘Open Data’ has recently emerged as a prominent label for renewed attempts to promote greater scientific exchange. As part of such efforts, the posting of data online is often portrayed as commonly beneficial: individual scientists accrue greater prominence while at the same time fostering communal knowledge. Yet, how scientists in non-Western research settings assess such calls for openness has been the subject of little empirical study. Based on extended fieldwork with (bio)chemistry laboratories in sub-Sahara Africa, this article examines a variety of reasons why scientists opt for closure over openness with regard to their own data. We argue that the heterogeneity of research environments calls into question many of the presumptions made as part of Open Data. Inequalities in research environments can mean that moves towards sharing create binds and dilemmas. These observations suggest those promoting openness must critically examine current research governance and funding systems that continue to perpetuate disparities. The article proposes an innovative approach to facilitating openness: coupling the sharing of data with enabling scientists to redress their day-to-day research environment demands. Such a starting basis provides an alternative but vital link between the aspirations for science aired today as part of international discussions and the daily challenges of undertaking research in low-resourced environments.
The research for this article was supported by the Leverhulme Trust under the award titled ‘Beyond the Digital Divide’ (RPG-2013-153). The authors would like to thank comments and corrections offered by Sabina Leonelli, Ann Kelly, and the article reviewers.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge) via the DOI in this record.
Published online: 18 May 2017