A study of the impact of data sharing on article citations using journal policies as a natural experiment

Abstract:  This study estimates the effect of data sharing on the citations of academic articles, using journal policies as a natural experiment. We begin by examining 17 high-impact journals that have adopted the requirement that data from published articles be publicly posted. We match these 17 journals to 13 journals without policy changes and find that empirical articles published just before their change in editorial policy have citation rates with no statistically significant difference from those published shortly after the shift. We then ask whether this null result stems from poor compliance with data sharing policies, and use the data sharing policy changes as instrumental variables to examine more closely two leading journals in economics and political science with relatively strong enforcement of new data policies. We find that articles that make their data available receive 97 additional citations (estimate standard error of 34). We conclude that: a) authors who share data may be rewarded eventually with additional scholarly citations, and b) data-posting policies alone do not increase the impact of articles published in a journal unless those policies are enforced.