The Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation share a common vision for maximizing the value of data that are generated through the trials we fund. We are committed to ensuring that the data from published clinical trials can be accessed by researchers so they can validate key findings, stimulate further inquiry, and ultimately deliver lifesaving results.
The sharing of data during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa that began in 2014 helped researchers to trace the origins of the final few cases and bring the epidemic under control.1And the challenge organized by the Journal to encourage researchers to use data from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) demonstrated the vast potential for those data to be reused to develop new applications and uncover new knowledge.2
The recent announcement by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) on data-sharing statements for clinical trials3 is a step in the right direction but falls short of realizing our vision. The ICMJE has not mandated data sharing as a requirement for publication, and we find the example statements it provides to be vague and open to interpretation. Crucially, the requirements do not recognize that some research funders already have mandates for data sharing.