Sharing data isn't new. Researchers have been sending each other data files for years. What is new is that many funders require data sharing as a key component of their research funding strategy. Publishers may also require you to share the data that supports the articles that they publish.
“Research data are a valuable resource, usually requiring much time and money to be produced. Many data have a significant value beyond usage for the original research. The ease with which digital data can be stored, disseminated and made easily accessible online to users means that many institutions are keen to share research data to increase the impact and visibility of their research.” (Van den Eynden, Veerle, Louise Corti, Matthew Woollard, Libby Bishop and Laurence Horton. “Managing and Sharing Data: Best Practices for Researchers.” UK Data Archive, University of Essex, 2011.)
Why should you share your research data?
How do I share my data?
The best practice for sharing your research data is to deposit it in a data repository. They are not just place holders - many of them also preserve and curate the data. Funders may specify specific repositories for the research data produced by projects they fund. Publishers may require that the data supporting research they publish be deposited in a specific location.
Advantages to using a repository: