DATA SHARING AMONG TRIALISTS
What about trialists sharing other study materials?
Rik Crutzen senior researcher1, Gjalt-Jorn Y Peters assistant professor2, Charles Abraham professor
of behaviour change 3
1Maastricht University/CAPHRI, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands; 2Open Universiteit, Postbus 2960, 6401 DL Heerlen, Netherlands;
3University of Exeter Medical School, St Luke’s Campus, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK
Rathi and colleagues provide insight into clinical trialists’
opinions and experiences of sharing clinical trial data.1We
would like to raise two related matters.
Firstly, this study and previous studies cited within are limited
to sharing data. We suggest that questionnaires, intervention
manuals, analysis scripts (such as syntax files), output files, and
other materials that are used to generate study reports should
also be shared. Accurate replication requires these additional
materials. This is essential for scientific progress because
successful replication strengthens our evidence that a given
theory, model, or assumption holds, whereas unsuccessful
replication is our only means of disproving them.2Publication
of analysis scripts and output files is necessary because
researchers make many important choices that are not disclosed
in research articles.3
Secondly, the concerns about data sharing raised by Rathi and
colleagues’ respondents can mostly be refuted.4For example,
one concern was the ability to publish own research. When a
researcher wants to publish several articles about one dataset,
publishing the dataset before all articles are published can be
risky, because others might conduct analyses that had been
planned for later articles and publish them earlier. A solution
is not to publish the entire dataset but only those variables
described in published articles. This is related to another
identified reason: sufficient academic or scientific recognition.
In the rat race of “publish or perish,” it might seem that
publishing materials (such as data, questionnaires, and
intervention manuals) will help others. However, materials are
only published after acceptance of the article, so any race has
already been won, or lost.
Competing interests: None declared.
1 Rathi V, Dzara K, Gross CP, Hrynaszkiewicz I, Joffe S, Krumholz HM, et al. Sharing of
clinical trial data among trialists: a cross sectional survey. BMJ 2012;345:e7570. (20
2 Ritchie SJ, Wiseman R, French CC. Failing the future: three unsuccessful attempts to
replicate Bem’s “retroactive facilitation of recall” effect. PLoS One 2012;7:e33423.
3 Simmons JP, Nelson LD, Simonsohn U. False-positive psychology: undisclosed flexibility
in data collection and analysis allows presenting anything as significant. Psychol Sci
4 Peters G-JY, Abraham C, Crutzen R. Full disclosure: doing behavioural science
necessitates sharing. Eur Health Psychol 2012;14:77-84.
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8352
© BMJ Publishing Group Ltd 2012
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BMJ 2012;345:e8352 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8352 (Published 10 December 2012) Page 1 of 1