The NHMRC is a signatory to the Wellcome Data Sharing and Management Policy (full text below)
Recent advances in information technology have revolutionised science - providing new opportunities for researchers to share data and build on one another's work. Informatics and the ability to mine large datasets and combine them with information from many other sources present a huge potential to advance developments in public health. The importance of data sharing in advancing health is becoming increasingly widely recognised, and has been strongly endorsed by the H8 group of global health organisations.
In some research fields - such as genetics and physics - data sharing is well-established and has accelerated the progress of research and its application for the public good. In public health research, however, while research collaborations are growing more common, the sharing of data is not yet the norm, even within the scientific community.
Much of the data collection that could improve public health research is expensive and time-consuming. As public and charitable funders of this research, we believe that making research data sets available to investigators beyond the original research team in a timely and responsible manner, subject to appropriate safeguards, will generate three key benefits:
Each funding institution will work within its own legal and operational framework, and we are committed to working towards these goals together. We intend to establish joint working groups where appropriate. We call on governments and other actors that generate routine health service statistics and other types of public health data to adopt a similar approach.
This Statement establishes guiding principles and desired goals. It recognises that flexibility and a variety of approaches will be needed in order to balance the rights of the individuals and communities that contribute data, the investigators that design research and collect and analyse data, and the wider scientific community that might productively use data for further research.
We, as funders of health research, intend to work together to increase the availability to the scientific community of the research data we fund that is collected from populations for the purpose of health research (1), and to promote the efficient use of those data to accelerate improvements in public health.
Funders agree to promote greater access to and use of data in ways that are:
While we recognise that progress may be gradual as we develop mechanisms and resources consistent with these principles, we aim to work in concert to achieve the following.