Is it time to share qualitative research data?

Policies by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation and scandals surrounding failures to reproduce the findings of key studies in psychology have generated increased calls for sharing research data. Most of these discussions have focused on quantitative, rather than qualitative, research data. This article examines scientific, ethical, and policy issues surrounding sharing qualitative research data. We consider advantages of sharing data, including enabling verification of findings, promoting new research in an economical manner, supporting research education, and fostering public trust in science. We then examine standard procedures for archiving and sharing data, such as anonymizing data and establishing data use agreements. Finally, we engage a series of concerns with sharing qualitative research data, such as the importance of relationships in interpreting data, the risk of reidentifying participants, issues surrounding consent and data ownership, and the burden of data documentation and depositing on researchers. For each concern, we identify options that enable data sharing or describe conditions under which select data might be withheld from a data repository. We conclude by suggesting that the default assumption should be that qualitative data will be shared unless concerns exist that cannot be addressed through standard data depositing practices such as anonymizing data or through data use agreements. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)