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Collaborations using Movebank

One of the goals of Movebank is to enable collaborations by providing a space and method for researchers to convert their data to a common format and to grant restricted or open access to others for purposes of new analyses. Below are some tips for initiating and carrying out collaborations. While each collaboration is unique, the following steps provide general advice for how Movebank can help you to plan and coordinate a successful project.

1. If you have not already, define a clear research question and outline the data needs for addressing it. Researchers will be excited about participating in a well thought out project that will result in high quality analysis and interesting results.

2. Identify researchers or organizations you want to invite to contribute to the project. Others might contribute by helping with analysis, providing existing data, or collaborating on new data collection. In addition to those you already have in mind, you can browse Movebank to find other data owners who might want to participate.

3. Contact the researchers you want to invite, and present a brief proposal of your project and planned analysis. Make sure to include details they will need to decide whether to participate:

  • What time and funding do you have to complete the research?
  • What will you need from participants?
  • How do you plan to credit data contributors in any manuscripts or other products that result from the project?

4. After you have some participants, write a data sharing agreement that you can sign along with each participant. A formal agreement can help to clarify how your collaboration will work and prevent unintended miscommunication. A sample data sharing agreement is provided at the bottom of this page. This agreement could specify

  • the person/group that owns and is contributing data to an analysis
  • the person/group that will use the data to complete the analysis
  • the exact data that will be used
  • how the data will be used and the scope of the analysis
  • how to ensure data quality
  • how the data owner will be credited for his/her contribution
  • who holds ownership of the data and whether and when data users will relinquish access to the data

5. Together with each participant, decide how the data will be shared on Movebank. This could work in a number of ways:

  • The data owner provides the user with files to upload to Movebank.
  • The data owner adds the user as a Collaborator or Data Manager to the study* so they can access it in Movebank. (Collaborators may view or download data, while Data Managers can also edit the data, e.g. by adding updates or running filters.)
  • The data owner downloads files from Movebank and sends them to the user.

6. Decide how you will prepare and check data prior to analysis. Datasets may not be ready for analysis as is, and when using others' data it can be difficult to identify errors or important missing information. You will need to work with the data owners to make sure that the data are complete, to check for outliers, and to ensure that deployment periods are set properly (i.e. that pre-/post-deployment records are not associated with animals). There are a variety of tools in Movebank to help you with these tasks.

7. Be sure to fulfill your end of the data sharing agreement. After researchers have invested time in discussing the project and providing you with data, they will want to hear from you about the progress of your project and know that they receive acknowledgement as you agreed.

Good luck! If you have questions or need assistance with using Movebank for your collaboration, just contact us at Remember that while Movebank is excited to facilitate collaborative projects, the proper use of shared data is the responsibility of the data owners and users.

*When the scope of sharing is limited to a specific project, consider creating a Movebank user for that project. This way, when the project is over, all providers can remove this user's access rights, or you can even ask for this user to be deleted (contact thus removing all access to the data used in the analysis. This also prevents confusion later, if a data owner forgets why s/he added access rights for a given user. Also, if more than one person is involved in the analysis, they can “share” this username rather than requiring data owners to give access to multiple users.

Movebank-sample-sharing-agreement.docx107.73 KB