Intended for healthcare professionals


Thanks for sharing: the bumpy road towards truly open data

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 02 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i849
  1. Michael J Murray, professor
  1. Grand Canyon Anesthesia Consultants, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 5951, USA
  1. mjmurray3{at}

The principle of data sharing should not depend on who’s asking

Asking investigators to share data from their clinical trials with external investigators has been discussed for some time, but the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has only recently provided recommendations.1 The committee proposes that authors of manuscripts considered for publication in its members’ journals must agree to share de-identified individual patient data no later than six months after publication.

In January, Dan Longo and Jeffrey Drazen, the deputy editor and editor in chief, respectively, of the New England Journal of Medicine, expressed concern that secondary investigators requesting trial data may not understand the nuances of how study outcome measures were defined and data collected.2 They worried that a new class of investigators could emerge—“research parasites”—who might use the data for their own ends, and suggested that relationships between original and secondary investigators should be symbiotic. Just four days later, however, Drazen clarified the NEJM’s position, agreeing in principle with ICJME’s proposal.3

In a …

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