Similar to Open Access, "Open Data" is about making research data freely available for others to analyze and possibly re-use. It is an accountability tool for the original researchers, in that other researchers can check their work. It also saves other researchers from re-collecting the same data for other studies.
As with Open Access, some research funders are starting to require that researchers make the results of their research, including the data, openly available to be examined and analyzed. In those cases, part of your grant application may include a plan detailing how you will manage and publish your data, including the type of data, the format it will be in, and the place it will be published.
In order for your data to be accessed, examined and analyzed by others, where you have published it, how you have organized it and the file formats you have made it available in matters. A pdf does not allow other researchers to dig into the numbers. Posting your files on your team's website only allows people who already know to look for them to find them. Fortunately there are tools, examples and tips that can help you be as transparent as possible with your research.
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