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-  2019 

Data Access as Regulation

DOI: 10.1177/0002764218797383

Keywords: data access,regulation,digitization,data ethics

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Abstract:

This article considers calls for data transparency as research regulation and accountability. Rather than arguing for or against the value of sharing data, the article argues that understanding the call for data sharing requires questioning assumptions embedded in the debate about the context of scholarship and rethinking the purposes of data access. The article first argues that the spread of information available digitally means that researchers in the academy and outside it work with digital information, quite apart from mandates for data access. Second, replication as an accountability measure is often offered as one reason for making data available. However, scholars of replication have argued that replication has multiple components, many difficult to enact. Demands in universities for grant funding, impact by standard metrics, and newsworthy research encourage rapidly produced scholarship and research that makes big innovative claims. However, replication imposed sporadically cannot regularly counter these systematic incentives. If one purpose of data access is to regulate the research enterprise, scholarship on regulatory strategies and the difficulty of accomplishing goals via mandates illuminates the call for data access. Replication operates as a threat, one seen to generate incentives for good science, but is erratically enforced. Borrowing from the scholarship of audit and regulation, the article uses regulation, including audit, as accountability to argue that the sciences might need to address fundamental concerns about trust

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