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The Limits of Sharing: Controlled Data Collections

Kristin Eschenfelder and Andrew Johnson

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


We investigated 24 web-based data repositories with "controlled collections" to determine why and how repositories control access to and use of data. We selected our sample of data repositories from across scholarly and scientific disciplines in order to investigate differences between fields. Using content analysis and surveys, we collected data about current repository policies and practices and underlying motivations for controlling data access and use. Looking across all disciplines, we found no overarching reason for restricting access to data, but "avoiding misuse" was listed most frequently. Ensuring attribution was the dominant reason for controlling use of data. Observed between-field findings are tentative given the small number of repositories in some fields that met study criteria; however, our data do suggest some interesting differences. We also found cross-disciplinary patterns regarding methods for controlling access to and use of data. Better understanding of and attention to access and use control interests may allow repositories to attract more data depositors and ultimately increase the amount of data that can be shared.

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