When open data closes the door: A critical examination of the past, present and the potential future for open data guidelines in journals

Annayah M. B. Prosser, Richard J. T. Hamshaw, Johanna Meyer, Ralph Bagnall, Leda Blackwood, Monique Huysamen, Abbie Jordan, Konstantina Vasileiou, Zoe Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Opening data promises to improve research rigour and democratize knowledge production. But it also presents practical, theoretical, and ethical considerations for qualitative researchers in particular. Discussion about open data in qualitative social psychology predates the replication crisis. However, the nuances of this ongoing discussion have not been translated into current journal guidelines on open data. In this article, we summarize ongoing debates about open data from qualitative perspectives, and through a content analysis of 261 journals we establish the state of current journal policies for open data in the domain of social psychology. We critically discuss how current common expectations for open data may not be adequate for establishing qualitative rigour, can introduce ethical challenges, and may place those who wish to use qualitative approaches at a disadvantage in peer review and publication processes. We advise that future open data guidelines should aim to reflect the nuance of arguments surrounding data sharing in qualitative research, and move away from a universal “one-size-fits-all” approach to data sharing. This article outlines the past, present, and the potential future of open data guidelines in social-psychological journals. We conclude by offering recommendations for how journals might more inclusively consider the use of open data in qualitative methods, whilst recognizing and allowing space for the diverse perspectives, needs, and contexts of all forms of social-psychological research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1635-1653
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date8 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Critical Research in Social Psychology (CRISP) group at the University of Bath for bringing the author team together and for providing helpful feedback on this article. We also thank the three anonymous reviewers who engaged deeply with this work and helped us to make this article as comprehensive and clear as possible, and the editors for overseeing this special issue. Thank you to other colleagues, friends, and family members who also provided encouraging feedback on this work and moral support while we worked on this project. Annayah M. B. Prosser was funded by an ESRC PhD studentship while writing this article. Ralph Bagnall was funded equally on a PhD studentship from the ESRC and the University of Bath, and Johanna Meyer was funded by a University of Bath PhD studentship.


  • content analysis
  • ethics
  • journal guidelines
  • journals
  • open data
  • open science
  • psychology
  • qualitative
  • qualitative methods
  • quantitative
  • social psychology
  • social sciences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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