Research Data

Publishing Data with ESTS
Version 0.3
Updated March 10, 2023. Last updated May, 21, 2024

ESTS invites prospective authors to consider publishing the source data from which their manuscripts draw. Examples of source data include interview transcripts and recordings, photographs, field notes, or numerical data sets. ESTS editors will work with authors interested in publishing their source data to ensure that it is properly stored and appropriate metadata is created. Source data undergoes a single-blind peer review process.

Why is ESTS doing this?
As the open access journal for the Society for Social Studies of Science, one of our commitments is to explore the possibilities of “open” in the context of scholarly work.

One broader movement in the scholarly community has been a push towards data sharing or “Open Data,” particularly in the natural sciences and medicine. In those disciplines, an increasing number of researchers are publishing their data sets so that they can be reused and to increase transparency and accountability in the research process.

Data sharing is far less prevalent in the humanities and social sciences, including in STS. One major reason for this is that qualitative data, which STS researchers are more likely to create and use, tends to be less modular and mobile than quantitative data. While all data is situated, or tied to particular times and places, often researchers in STS-related fields are more likely to recognize and acknowledge this situatedness. In many respects, data in STS cannot be treated in the same way as data in the natural sciences or medicine. Scholars and practitioners have expressed concerns that data sharing without carefully tending to ethical obligations and responsibilities may lead to further extractive knowledge practices rather than better research relations. It may be the case that “open data” as such is not something that becomes common for scholars in STS.

At the same time, we believe there are many possible benefits for the STS community from some form of data sharing. Data sharing may create:

1. An archive of work in the discipline. Currently, formal publications such as journal articles and books remain the main means that STS work is preserved in publicly accessible and credentialed forms. There is a vast amount of information that STS scholars produce that may be of interest to the community, but which remains inaccessible. Some such archives already exist, but increased sharing of this source material could help facilitate their growth.

2. Greater recognition of diverse contributions to scholarly research. STS scholars are well aware that the people recognized for major contributions are not always the people most responsible for them. Data sharing may make it possible to better acknowledge and credit the many people who contribute towards a research project. For instance, interlocutors can be contributors for objects. a research interlocutor could be named as the creator of a citable object for contributing photographs they took. They could, if the photographers wish to, help to contextualize the photograph directly themselves through the metadata text.

3. Opportunities for new insights. STS data is often strongly tied to specific times and places, but this also means that the sharing of such source materials might inspire new insights when viewed by someone from a new vantage point—an interview conducted in the US in 2022 may be understood differently by someone in Taiwan in 2050, revealing something that could not be foreseen by the original data contributor. Encouraging different and creative interpretive use can become another reason for sharing data, beyond conventional logics of the reproducibility of findings.

4. Pedagogical opportunities—Data sharing may provide new resources that could be used in STS teaching. Students may learn about research methods and analysis by being able to see the source data from which a conventionally published piece was produced.

All of these possibilities emerge from our sense that “data” should be treated not as stable and self-contained objects that speak for themselves, but as embodiments of relationships, which underlie our work as STS scholars. We expect that most benefits of data sharing will come from extending and diversifying these data relationships. We believe creative data practices may be one way to speak back to several of the criticisms identified above.

As of now, the actual benefits for STS scholars of data sharing and Open Data generally remain unclear, but we believe that they are areas awaiting further exploration and experimentation. We invite authors interested in discussing what publishing of their data might look like to reach out to us at:

Why would I want to publish my data?
The main reason we would encourage authors to publish their data is to participate in this experiment. If you see your data potentially linking to one of the above possibilities, or to something else we have not foreseen, then we invite you to collaborate with us.

In addition, you may decide to publish your data for storage and security. We will work with authors to store data on platforms that will ensure its accessibility. If you have data you worry may be lost, then data sharing is one way to make off-site backups on public, non-profit repositories.

Finally, some funding agencies and institutions have begun requiring data sharing in some form. Data sharing with ESTS is one way to fulfill this requirement.

Am I required to publish my data to publish with ESTS?
No. You do not need to publish or share your data to have your work published in ESTS.

If I decide to publish my data, what do I need to do?
Get in touch with us. You can start by contacting associate editors Angela Okune and Grant Otsuki to learn about the process, and discuss what can happen.

Our basic process will require you to attest that you have control and ownership of the data, show that you have gone through appropriate ethics review processes in acquiring that data, and assign a Creative Commons license to your data. Please note that you have the option to select a different license for your data than the one chosen for your article. The STS Infrastructures platform supports all Creative Commons (CC) licenses, as well as "all rights reserved" and "public domain" options.

From there, we will work with you to share the data to STS Infrastructures or on the ESTS website, or another repository. We will help you develop inventories of the data, and create useful metadata so that it can be indexed and located.

We recognize that publishing data requires time, work, and patience from all concerned. We believe it will be well worth it, and greatly appreciate your willingness to engage in this endeavor.

If you have ideas about sharing data that are not covered by the above, we are very happy to collaborate with you on other ways of working with data.

Data Repositories
We currently publish data artifacts in STS Infrastructures as standalone data artifacts (PDF, audio, video, image, text, or tabular data). For more information see: STS-I contents page.

All data submitted for publication must be accompanied by the following supporting documents:
Data Publication Agreement
Data Availability Statement