The aims of this paper are to illustrate the trend towards data sharing, i.e. the regulated availability of the original patient-level data obtained during a study, and to discuss the expected advantages (pros) and disadvantages (cons) of data sharing in radiological research. Expected pros include the potential for verification of original results with alternative or supplementary analyses (including estimation of reproducibility), advancement of knowledge by providing new results by testing new hypotheses (not explored by the original authors) on pre-existing databases, larger scale analyses based on individual-patient data, enhanced multidisciplinary cooperation, reduced publication of false studies, improved clinical practice, and reduced cost and time for clinical research. Expected cons are outlined as the risk that the original authors could not exploit the entire potential of the data they obtained, possible failures in patients’ privacy protection, technical barriers such as the lack of standard formats, and possible data misinterpretation. Finally, open issues regarding data ownership, the role of individual patients, advocacy groups and funding institutions in decision making about sharing of data and images are discussed.

Key Points:
Regulated availability of patient-level data of published clinical studies (data-sharing) is expected.
Expected benefits include verification/advancement of knowledge, reduced cost/time of research, clinical improvement.
Potential drawbacks include faults in patients’ identity protection and data misinterpretation.

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European Radiology: journal of the European Congress of Radiology
Department of Radiology

Sardanelli, F., Alì, M. (Marco), Hunink, M., Houssami, N., Sconfienza, L., & di Leo, G. (2018). To share or not to share? Expected pros and cons of data sharing in radiological research. European Radiology: journal of the European Congress of Radiology, 1–8. doi:10.1007/s00330-017-5165-5