How to apply an open license to research data
Applying an open license to your dataset is a straightforward process.
1. Choose your license
First, choose which license best suits what you want others to do with your dataset. Your choice of license depends on the following:
- The type of research data
- The extent of reuse you wish to allow
- Compliance with relevant funder, institution, or government policies
Additionally, if you plan to submit your paper to a specific publisher, they may require you to apply a specific license to your work. For example, to submit your work to an F1000 publishing venue, you must have applied a CC0 or CC-BY license to your work.
When choosing an open license, you’ll also need to consider who owns the research data. Only rights holders can apply licenses. Intellectual property rights (IPR) and good data management affect how you and others can use your and others’ research data. If you fail to clarify rights in your primary data and permissions for using secondary data at the start of your research it can affect your ability to use and disseminate the data. It can also lead to legal trouble if you infringe another party’s IPR, for example, by publishing data without authorization.
2. Communicate your license clearly
Usually, the repository in which you are hosting your dataset should display the license associated with the data.. If you are sharing open source software or code, the open source license, such as an Apache License or GNU General Public Licence (GPL), can also be included in a README file.
You should also consider all the information you’ll need to describe the data and provide context for your work. Metadata and documentation allow data users to have sufficient information to understand the research data’s source, strengths, weaknesses, and analytical limitations to make informed decisions when using it.
3. Write a data availability statement
Write a data availability statement as part of your article stating which license you have chosen to apply to your dataset, the name of the data repository where the data is stored, and any other information required by your specific publisher.
At F1000, a data availability statement is a required section of a manuscript that tells the reader how, where, and under what conditions the data associated with your research can be accessed and reused.
Your statement should reference all data associated with your article and details of any software you used to process results.