CORRESPONDENCE

Sharing COVID data? Check these recommendations and guidelines

The Research Data Alliance COVID-19 Working Group’s findings (see C. C. Austin et al. Wellcome Open Res. 5, 267; 2020) on what is needed for collaborations across disciplines align with calls to action from viral genomicists (E. B. Hodcroft et al. Nature 591, 30–33; 2021) and from scholars in the social sciences, arts and humanities (H. Shah Nature 591, 503; 2021).

At the European Commission’s request, the working group last year published guidelines — crafted with participation of researchers in many disciplines — for data sharing in clinical medicine, omics, epidemiology and social sciences. These take into account community participation, Indigenous populations, research software and legal and ethical considerations.

We urged institutions to broadly consult stakeholders prior to and during data gathering and dissemination. While collecting and sharing data, researchers should consider the cultural, ethical and community contexts of data use. And technical interoperability should ensure that data can be reused in many disciplines and by others, such as clinicians and public-health authorities.

More than a year into the pandemic, we’re keen to see these guidelines followed.

Nature 592, 507 (2021)

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