Geneticists, astrophysicists and molecular biologists routinely share research data with colleagues and rivals alike. That’s because scientists and their funders know we’ll understand complex issues sooner if people build on one another’s work. Yet scientists in global health have been left behind in the data sharing revolution. Epidemiologists hoard data in the (usually mistaken) belief that they’ll get around to doing more analysis and publishing more papers one day.

Public and philanthropic funders of research are beginning to get fed up with paying scientists to collect data that never see the light of day, let alone fall under the spotlight of scrutiny from other researchers. Yet they continue to encourage this behaviour indirectly, by rewarding scientists with grants and promotions on the basis of the papers they publish in peer-reviewed journals, rather than the data they make available to other scientists.

At Ternyata, we are helping to reduce what Hans Rosling has termed “data hugging disorder”. We work with science funders to analyse obstacles to data sharing and develop policies to promote sharing of data and the tools that go into collecting it. We have developed simplfied tools to help with data management to make sharing easier. And we’re trying it out ourselves using the Dataverse platform.