Finding Data to Index: Data available through a consortium

This blog post is part of a series on using the “has data avail” filter on PubMed Central (PMC) to identify a wide range of institutional datasets and what we at NYU learned about our institution’s data sharing practices from this exercise. To learn more about the background of this project and how we pulled the bibliographic data used, please refer to our first post. This blog post will talk about Data Availability Statements that list the data as available through request to a consortium or a committee.

In the bibliographic data we pulled from PMC, approximately 2% of the journal articles listed the data as available by request through a consortium or a committee. What this means is that another researcher could request the data from a third party that is charged with managing re-use requests for the data. You can see an example of a data availability statement for such a dataset below:

Example Data Availability Statement

Example Data Availability Statement

While some of the data used in this example is available through the Gene Ontology Database (GEO), additional data from the Bipolar Disorders Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium was used. In this situation, the authors applied for access to data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, and through the Data Availability Statement, are instructing readers on where they may obtain the data for re-use. The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, in turn, provides detailed documentation of the data.

The several modes of access described in Data Availability Statements, data that is available through a consortium or committee is one of the rarer options. Many of these datasets are large genomic datasets or datasets generated by city, state, or national entities (e.g., the New York City Department of Education). Because of the size of the dataset and the pre-existing infrastructure for re-use, many of these datasets have already helped researchers generate new research and have resulted in multiple publications. For the example, the NYU Data Catalog includes a record for the dataset collected during the Counseling African Americans to Control Hypertension (CAATCH) Trial which is governed by a Study Oversight Committee. This dataset has already generated at least 6 separate journal articles

The benefit of cataloging these types of datasets is that they were previously only discoverable through serendipity, or through referral by a colleague. When datasets available through a consortium or committee are indexed in the data catalog, the work that these committees have already done to make their data re-usable will be more visible to the public, and researchers will be more likely to re-use these large and valuable datasets.