Publish Your Data: Researcher Highlight

This post was authored by Shadae Gatlin, DUL Repository Services Analyst and member of the Research Data Curation Team.

Collaborating for openness

The Duke University Libraries’ Research Data Curation team has the privilege to collaborate with exceptional researchers and scholars who are advancing their fields through open data sharing in the Duke Research Data Repository (RDR). One such researcher, Martin Fischer, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics, recently discussed his thoughts on open data sharing with us. A trained physicist, Dr. Fischer describes himself as an “optics person” his work ranges from developing microscopes that can examine melanin in tissues to looking at pigment distribution in artwork. He has published data in the RDR on more than one occasion and says of the data deposit process that, “I can only say, it was a breeze.”

“I can only say, it was a breeze.”

Dr. Fischer recalls his first time working with the team as being “much easier than I thought it was going to be.” When Dr. Fischer and colleagues experienced obstacles trying to setup OMERO, a server to host their project data, they turned to the Duke Research Data Repository as a possible solution to storing the data. This was Dr. Fischer’s first foray into open data publishing, and he characterizes the team as being  responsive and easy to work with. Due to the large size of the data, the team even offered to pick up the hard drive from Fischer’s office. After they acquired the data, the team curated, archived, and then published it, resulting in Fischer’s first dataset in the RDR.

Why share data?

When asked why he believes open data sharing is important, Dr. Fischer says that “sharing data creates an opportunity for others to help develop things with you.” For example, after sharing his latest dataset  which evaluates the efficacy of masks to reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets, Fischer received requests for a non-proprietary option for data analysis instead of using the team’s data analysis scripts written for the commercial program Mathematica. Peers offered to help develop a Python script, which is now openly available, and for which the developers used the RDR data as a reference. As of January 2021, the dataset has had 991 page views.

Dr. Fischer appreciates the opportunity for research development that open data sharing creates, saying, “Maybe somebody else will develop a routine, or develop something that is better, easier than what we have”. Datasets deposited in the RDR are made publicly available for download and receive a permanent DOI link, which makes the data even more accessible.

“Maybe somebody else will develop a routine, or develop something that is better, easier than what we have.”

In addition to the benefits of long-term preservation and access that publishing data in the RDR provides, Dr. Fischer finds that sharing his data openly encourages a sense of accountability. “I don’t have a problem with other people going in and trying, and making sure it’s actually right. I welcome the opportunity for feedback”. With many research funding agencies introducing policies for research data management and data sharing practices, the RDR is a great option for Duke researchers. Every dataset that is accepted into the RDR is carefully curated to meet FAIR guidelines and optimized for future reuse.

Collaborating with researchers like Dr. Martin Fischer is one of the highlights of working on the Research Data Curation team. We look forward to seeing what fascinating data 2021 will bring to the RDR and working with more Duke researchers to share their data with the world.

Dr. Fischer’s Work in the Duke Research Data Repository:

  • Wilson, J. W., Degan, S., Gainey, C. S., Mitropoulos, T., Simpson, M. J., Zhang, J. Y., & Warren, W. S. (2019). Data from: In vivo pump-probe and multiphoton fluorescence microscopy of melanoma and pigmented lesions in a mouse model. Duke Digital Repository. https://doi.org/10.7924/r4cc0zp95
  • Fischer, E., Fischer, M., Grass, D., Henrion, I., Warren, W., Westman, E. (2020). Video data files from: Low-cost measurement of facemask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech. Duke Research Data Repository. V2 https://doi.org/10.7924/r4ww7dx6q

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