Research: Sharing files

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Many researchers work together in a research group or on a project. Even if you are not involved in collaborative work in that sense, you can gain some of the benefits of working with others, whether that is working on a joint project or simply sharing ideas and experiences with researchers working in similar areas.

'File sharing' is often used to refer to illegal file sharing: distribution or providing access to copyright-protected files without authorization, often music or films. There are, however, other forms of file sharing and what we are concerned with here is services that you can use to make material you produce available to others.

At Oxford University, SharePoint offers a secure way of sharing work with colleagues who are members of the university. Your department or project may have a SharePoint site. You can have your own individual MySite in SharePoint where you can store files and documents, and permit others to use them.

Different file sharing services have different sets of functions and what you can do will vary between them. If you are sharing sensitive or valuable material, you should consider other methods than public, free services over which you have little control.

It is also possible to use various other tools and services for sharing files, such as the social network sites Facebook or LinkedIn and the VOIP service Skype. What you use depends on what you are sharing and how much control over it you want to have.

Remember: It is important to carefully consider what you are sharing and with whom. Do you have the right to make this available? Who will have access to it? Will you be giving away any rights to the material by sharing it? Will you be able to publish an article if you have made it generally available before that? You would not make your secret research results available to anyone, but you may be happy to publish the slides from a conference presentation or to share certain material with some people.