Abstract: Open data offer the opportunity to economically combine data into large-scale datasets, fostering collaboration and re-use in the interest of treating researchers’ resources as well as study participants with care. Whereas advantages of utilising open data might be self-evident, the production of open datasets also challenges individual researchers. This is especially true for open data that include personal data, for which higher requirements have been legislated. Mainly building on our own experience as scholars from different research traditions (life sciences, social sciences and humanities), we describe best-practice approaches for opening up research data. We reflect on common barriers and strategies to overcome them, condensed into a step-by-step guide focused on actionable advice in order to mitigate the costs and promote the benefit of open data on three levels at once: society, the disciplines and individual researchers. Our contribution may prevent researchers and research units from re-inventing the wheel when opening data and enable them to learn from our experience.