4 Born-open data

The most radical form of data sharing involves publishing data as they are being collected. Rouder (2016) implements this “born-open” approach using the publicly hosted version control system Github. Data can similarly be “born open” with other tools that may be more familiar to a wider range or researchers and are easier to set up. For example, a born-open data workflow can be set up using Dropbox3 and the Open Science Framework (OSF; see http://help.osf.io/m/addons/l/524148-connect-add-ons). Once the connection is set up, the Dropbox storage is available in the files widget. If a file is changed in the Dropbox, all previous versions can be viewed and downloaded in the OSF repository. Currently, a drawback of this approach, compared to using a hosted version control system, is that OSF does not log and display changes made to files as Recent Activities. Hence, if files are deleted, they vanish without a trace, putting a serious limit on transparency.

Version control software, on the other hand, automatically tracks changes to a repository and allow users to access previous versions. Such platforms (e.g., github.com, gitlab.com, or bitbucket.org) have both advantages and disadvantages. They can be used to facilitate collaboration and tracking changes as well as to share research products: They have greatest potential when used for the complete research “pipeline from data collection to final manuscript submission” (Rouder, 2016, p. 1066; Gandrud, 2013b). But for researchers with no previous experience with version control systems, such platforms can have a steep learning curve. In addition, services that host version control systems may have a different commitment to preserve resources than repositories that are explicitly designed to archive research products. However, note that, for example, GitHub repositories can be archived using the publicly funded research data repository Zenodo (https://guides.github.com/activities/citable-code/).


  1. Alternatively, the same workflow could also be set up with other cloud storage providers that are integrated with OSF, such as ownCloud, Google Drive, or Box, though funders or institutions may have restrictions on the use of these providers.