Intended for healthcare professionals


Why data sharing should be the expected norm

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 05 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h599
  1. Harlan M Krumholz, professor of medicine
  1. 1Section of Cardiovascular Medicine and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA
  2. 2 Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven
  3. 3Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven
  1. harlan.krumholz{at}

The Institute of Medicine takes a step in the right direction but we should move even faster

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), a venerable American institution that seeks to provide authoritative recommendations to decision makers and the public, released a report last month on Sharing Clinical Trial Data.1 The report is a welcome codification of guiding principles and frameworks. It reinforces many arguments for data sharing and urges that stakeholders “should foster a culture in which data sharing is the expected norm.”1 The IOM joins many other organizations, including drug companies,2 3 the European Medicines Agency,4 the National Institutes of Health,5 and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,6 in making clear that study reporting and data sharing in medical research are imperative and the questions ahead are how, not whether.

The general support for data sharing in the IOM document will be familiar to The BMJ’s readers, as this journal has long advocated the importance of transparency in scientific research and the need to report results and share data.7 The report provides what should be easily achievable recommendations for the research community. The committee called for data sharing only for new trials, though it urged consideration of sharing older studies. It stated that 18 months could elapse …

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