Increasingly, qualitative researchers are asked to respond to calls for open research and transparency. While there are many ways within the research process to demonstrate transparency, allowing access to the data or parts of data remains an efficient and rigorous way of doing this. While using a trusted repository, like the UK Data Service, is advisable to manage and publish data, there are other providers that can provide quick, short-term methods for publishing, including project websites, data portals and journal repositories.
Project websites can provide immediate, easy storage and simplified access to research data. The Living and Working on Sheppey project website, for example, provided the community of Sheppey with access to 33 interviews and 110 essays written by school children for several years following the completion of the project, allowing a space for community history to be built and shared. These websites can also function as a space to update and communicate with participants, by releasing regular research updates through blog posts, posting project information, or providing a point of contact through query submissions.
Open data portals similarly allow open access via the web. For example, the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network is an open-source data management platform that allows any organisation to set up an open data website or portal, complete with visualisation features. While these web-based portals provide a quick publishing route for data as a short-term, impact-generating solution, they do not provide preservation and curation services and therefore are not a long-term data storage solution.
Finally, journals increasingly require authors to make their data and research materials available, at least during the peer review process. A number of services work with journals to provide an open access data repository that can be used where authors have not made their data available elsewhere. Some of the larger data repositories underpinning journals include:
- Dryad: an international data repository for the biosciences which serves to preserve data that underpin peer-reviewed publications. The vision of Dryad is to be a scholarly communication system in which learned societies, publishers, institutions of research and education, funding bodies and other stakeholders collaboratively sustain and promote the preservation and reuse of data underlying scholarly literature. By 2017, Dryad contained more than 20,000 data packages associated with articles in over 600 journals. Dryad has a number of partner repositories which exchange data with Dryad and co-develop mechanisms for data submission and search functionality.
- PANGAEA: The Publishing Network for Geoscientific and Environmental Data (PANGAEA) is an open access repository hosting data to support various journals in earth and environmental sciences. Data archived at PANGAEA are fully citable and can be cross-referenced with journal articles, for example with the publisher Elsevier. Data supplements of publications in Elsevier journals show a PANGAEA logo with links to the data on the papers’ splash page in ScienceDirect.
- DataONE: The Nature family of journals has a policy that requires authors to make data and materials available to readers, as a condition of publication, preferably via public repositories. Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) preserves and provides access to multidisciplinary and multinational science data offering open, persistent and secure access to data.
While many of these other service providers offer a space to store and publish data, it’s particularly important with qualitative data to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. Where additional safeguards are needed due to the sensitivity of the data or a higher risk of disclosure, the repository should enable access restrictions to limit any potential breach of confidentiality.