Why Cochrane should prioritise sharing data
Adams, Clive E.
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Packer1 says that the one who submits a research for public good should be ready to receive a request for data sharing for examination and re-analysis and that tax payers assume that a national agency is checking such data and analysis. Here we discuss Cochrane’s practice on data sharing.Open science, as endorsed by the G7,2 includes sharing data, computer code, and materials. It is essential for reproducibility, collaboration, and innovation. We support the work of Cochrane, but are concerned that Cochrane is not sharing all its reviews’ data. These data should be fully accessible for reuse by third parties.Cochrane, a non-profit private company3 and registered charity, produces and maintains systematic reviews in health and social care. Its work is undertaken by a global network of thousands of people,4 and its support largely comes from public funding.5 Most people producing Cochrane reviews are volunteers not specifically funded for this work,67 and Cochrane encourages “crowdsourcing” of work.8910Cochrane editorial bases help volunteers obtain study reports and manually extract the wealth of data needed to generate systematic reviews.111213 Cochrane teams use RevMan software14 to produce files in standard format (XML), storing information on the studies, their methods, and results for publication in the Cochrane Library.Benefits of sharing extracted data from trials and systematic reviews are well known, as are the costs of not sharing.13151617 Sharing maximises transparency, reliability of data extraction, and syntheses. It improves access to data—saving time and money—and opens new avenues of inquiry.18 Sharing is associated with increased citations,19 more publications,20 and reuse for new purposes.16Structured data from Cochrane should be fully accessible for download, reuse, and review (box 1). Currently, they are not. …