Data access statements

Updated on 7 July 2023

Guidance for researchers on when a data access statement is required and how to write one.

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A good route to finding data is via a publication.  When research findings are published in a paper, report or book, underlying data should be cited and a data access/availability statement used to give the location of the data and advice on how it can be accessed.

How to cite data

Data deposited in a repository is assigned a persistent and/or unique identifier such as a digital object identifier (DOI). This directs the reader to information about the data and any conditions for access. 

Do I always have to provide a data access statement?

Many funders and scientific journals stipulate that underlying data must be made available at the time of publication unless there are justifiable reasons that prevent this such as legal or ethical restrictions. A data access statement should record, in brief terms, relevant information on data availability.

Check your Research Funders' Open Access Policy requirements at the Sherpa Juliet funder policy database.

See the 'Examples of Data Access Statements' section below for sample wording. 

I have no data or no data that I can share

Where there are no data, or data are available subject to access restrictions, this must be explained in the data access statement.

Data access statements

  • You will need to provide the reader with the location of the data.

The easiest way to do this is via a unique identifier which is a clickable link.  Most data are assigned a DOI or unique identifier by the hosting repository.  Following the link will bring the reader to the metadata which describes the data.

  • Where there are restrictions on access describe these briefly.

Further details can be given at the DOI landing page hosted by the repository.  This will outline access and reuse conditions, embargo periods, sensitivity of data and so on.  Where data is available as controlled access readers will be required to evidence their credentials as a bonafide researcher before getting access to data.

  • Indicate if there are any licences that apply to the data either applied by you, the creator or a third party.

If you have re-used data this may be subject to existing licences.  Funders and journals may impose licensing restrictions on shared data.  These are likely to be licences that encourage the open sharing of data - such as Creative Commons.

Consult the guidelines provided by your research funder and journal for details on the citation format to use.

NB. Where there are no underlying data you must state clearly that no data was created during the course of the study.

Example data access statements

The University of Bristol have extensive advice on the preparation of data access statements available on their web pages. The University of Manchester have created a variety of data access statements that cover numerous different scenarios and can be adapted for use.

Some useful examples have been adapted for University of Dundee researchers below;

For Open data:

'All data created during this research are openly available from the [Name of repository e.g. University of Dundee Institutional Repository, Discovery] at [give DOI e.g.]'

Secondary data:

'Data used for this paper will be made available on request to the [details of repository where data was initially accessed].'

Commercially restricted data:

'Supporting data will be available from [name of repository] after a [x] month embargo from the data of publication to allow for commercialisation of research.'

Data included within a paper:

‘All data supporting this publication are directly available within this publication.’

No data:

'No data were created during this study.'

Data in proprietary formats:

‘Research data underpinning this publication is available from the [repository name] at [DOI]. Some of this data is only available in a proprietary file format [insert name of the file format], which can only be opened with [insert name of software] software.’

Where to record a data access statement

It should be noted for many journals data access or availability statements now appear as a distinct article section that is freely and universally accessible.  Data availability statements are equivalently accessible to other article information elements such as abstracts, full reference lists, supplementary information, and acknowledgements. Where no data access statement section exists make use of the acknowledgements section.

There are good examples of data access/availability statements on these publisher web pages: Springer NatureWiley and Taylor Francis.

Data access statements for clinical trials (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, ICMJE) 

Your chosen journal may require a data access statement that meets the ICMJE requirements. These are described in a statement published by the ICMJE on 'Data Sharing Statements for Clinical Trials: A Requirement of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors'.  Updates to this statement are available in the ICMJE's 'Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals' (page 14).