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A Game Theoretic Analysis of Research Data Sharing

Presenter 1
Tessa Pronk
Utrecht University

While reusing research data has evident benefits for the scientific community as a whole, decisions to archive and share these data are primarily made by individual researchers. Is research data sharing to their advantage? To tackle this question, we built a model in which there is an explicit cost associated with sharing datasets whereas reusing such sets implies a benefit. In our calculations, conflicting interests appear for researchers. Individual researchers are always better off not sharing and omitting sharing costs, whereas at the same time both sharing and not sharing researchers are better off if (almost) all researchers share. Namely, the more researchers share, the more benefit can be gained by the reuse of those datasets. Further simulation results point out that, although policy measures should be able to increase the rate of sharing researchers, and increased discoverability and dataset quality could partly compensate for costs, a better measure would be to directly lower the cost for sharing, or even turn it into a (citation-) benefit. Making data available would in that case become the most profitable, and therefore stable, strategy. This means researchers would willingly make their datasets available, and arguably in the best possible way to enable reuse.

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