Ways to boost your citations – Data Sharing

Data sharing is getting support from the academic communities as favourable practice in scholarly publishing. It can enable researchers to replicate findings, build on others’ expertise, and reuse existing data for making new discoveries (Gilmore et al., 2018). While it brings key benefits to scientific progress and the whole research community, at the individual level, researchers could also gain from opening their data to the public. In this post, we will summarize a few benefits of sharing research data, and how it could lead to a boost in the citations of your work.


[Image source: Hole, B. (2015). Open Science: A New publisher Perspective. Ubiquity press. (CC BY 4.0 International)]

By publishing your research data* in an open, trusted repository, you could be benefited from the advantages open data brings you:

  • Compliance with funder’s or publisher’s research data policies
  • A long-term secured storage for your data
  • Increased visibility: more exposure for your work
  • Increased discoverability: more collaborations opportunities
  • Increased citability: a higher citation rate for your work
  • Encouraged re-use of your data by others to replicate your results or reproduce scientific research


“Research data” are defined as factual records (numerical scores, textual records, images and sounds) used as primary sources for scientific research, and that are commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings (OECD, 2007).

Data sharing on DataHub

DataHub, powered by Figshare, is the HKU institutional data repository for storing, citing, sharing, and discovering research data and all scholarly outputs of the HKU community. The repository has been running for almost two years and the Libraries is providing several advisory and data curation support to our HKU members. Sharing your data on DataHub is easy and fast. You may refer to our detailed guide on all the distinctive features of the repository and step-by-step guide on how to publish your data on DataHub. 

Let’s take a look on the DataHub profile of Prof. Fu King-wa, Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong.

It offers aggregated usage metrics of all your published data on DataHub, favouring you to manage and analyze the attention (e.g. view counts, download counts) that your shared data could draw.

Linking your published dataset with your publication could increase the accessibility of your work and in turn an increase in the visibility of your research. As shown in one of Prof. Fu’s published dataset record, a direct URL can be added to link up the record with his published article:

Beyond traditional citation analysis, DataHub is also offering altmetrics statistics that count the attention your work received across different altmetrics sources. In another Prof. Fu’s published work, both the published article and the associated dataset could draw attention from altmetrics sources and boosted the exposure of the work to members of the public.

According to Figshare, published items on their repositories have been attracting attention across various altmetrics sources. From within, Twitter has been identified as the major sources of attention over the years.

[Image source: Engineering, Altmetric; Guichard, Stephanie (2022): Produce, publish, promote, track and analyze: Altmetric & Figshare for NTROs. Altmetric. Presentation. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.20072093.v1]

In our previous blog post, we have illustrated how social media can boost citations and listed a few tips on how you could promote your article on Twitter. Your shared data can also be promoted individually or alongside with your article on social media. Don’t miss the chance to get to know the ways to push the altmetrics attention of your work.

Citation increase by data sharing

Several studies also revealed the citation benefits that data sharing could bring. Piwowar et al. (2007) found a significant association between publicly available data and the citation rate of the associated publications.

Figure 1. Distribution of 2004–2005 citation counts of 85 trials by data availability in Piwowar et al.’s study.


Piwowar, H., Day, R., Fridsma, D. (2007). Sharing Detailed Research Data Is Associated with Increased Citation Rate. PLoS ONE 2(3): e308. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000308

Recently, Colavizza et al. (2020) further examined the data availability statements indicating data available in different ways, including on request, available in attached supplementary files, and available in a repository. Using a citation prediction model, the authors revealed a correlation that articles linking their data that are “available in a repository” received up to 25.36% (± 1.07%) higher citation impact on average. The results of Colavizza et al.’s study is encouraging and have shown that efforts made by researchers on sharing their data in a repository could be rewarding.

Data sharing not only means to be favourable to the research community, but also brings you advantages, especially discoverability and visibility of your work, at the individual level, reaching a win-win situation. Discover more or start sharing your data now on DataHub (https://datahub.hku.hk/)!


Colavizza, G., Hrynaszkiewicz, I., Staden, I., Whitaker, K., McGillivray, B. (2020). The citation advantage of linking publications to research data. PLoS ONE 15(4): e0230416. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230416 

Gilmore, R., Kennedy, J., & Adolph, K. (2018). Practical Solutions for Sharing Data and Materials From Psychological Research. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 1(1), 121-130. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515245917746500 

OECD. (2007). OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding. OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264034020-en-fr

Piwowar, H., Day, R., Fridsma, D. (2007). Sharing Detailed Research Data Is Associated with Increased Citation Rate. PLoS ONE 2(3): e308. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000308