The growth of surveys with questions on data sharing practices has made a significant contribution to characterizing knowledge ecology for open data over the last five years. Yet, our analysis of survey instruments concludes that aggregation and comparative analysis is difficult or impossible, and geographic coverage is uneven. There is a high diversity in: focus (motivations, practices, barriers), main topics (data sharing, Open Data, Open Science, Responsible Conduct of Research), question style and language. As a result, much of data are not interoperable. We observed, specifically, the practices and perceptions of respondents from the Global South are underrepresented. To start addressing this imbalance we are running the “Surveying Data Sharing Practices in African Research” project (https://zenodo.org/record/3961910#.YCZl-pNKg1I) funded through the International Development Research Centre.During the WACREN 2021 conference, we will present some preliminary findings of our study; specifically, we will discuss three aspects of the survey instrument:
Interoperability: the design process of the survey will be introduced, focusing on the comparison of existing surveys and dialogue with stakeholders. A product of this comparison is a database of questions structured into the modular components of the Institutional Assessment and Development (IAD) Framework developed by Elinor Ostrom. We will discuss how this database will allow for the flexible re-use of the survey instrument and facilitate the interoperability of data collected from future surveys. Allowing this database to remain a dynamic resource, to which further questions and translations of questions can be added, will increase its utility and integration into studies of data sharing. Key issues relating to translation, dissemination and specificity will also be discussed.
Re-usability: a commitment to re-use of research resources drove the project design. The concept of a “suite” of re-usable resources will be introduced, including clone-able website, re-usable analysis code, re-usable document templates, as well as re-usable data and survey tool.
Roll-out and re-use experiences: this section will end with a brief overview of the survey dissemination in 8 African countries. They are Uganda and Ethiopia from East Africa; Burkina Faso and Senegal from West Africa and Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe from Southern Africa. The survey is currently live at https://surveying-open-data-practices.github.io/sopd2020/en/ and available in three languages: English, French and Portuguese.
The data gathered will address a current caveat in data sharing discussions, namely the lack of data on African open research practices. The production of a re-usable survey tool will also be of considerable benefit to funders, decision makers, institutions and national governments in the Global South, as they will be able to gather comparable data on research practices to be used as evidence for research policy development.