Key lessons from our work on the COVID-19 pandemic are now published in Lancet Public Health

Our peer-reviewed article outlines seven ways to publish data better.

Without data, knowing how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic would have been impossible. Data was crucial to understanding how the disease spread and which efforts successfully protected people.

Yet national agencies often did not publish their data optimally, making it even more challenging to respond to the pandemic. Learning from what went well and what did not is crucial for the future.

Drawing on our first-hand experience of publishing COVID-19 data, including assembling the global datasets on testing and vaccinations, we summarized our lessons in a Viewpoint article for the peer-reviewed journal Lancet Public Health.

The article outlines seven best practices for how to publish data. We explain what each best practice involves and give examples of how governments fell short or succeeded in following them during the pandemic. In short, agencies should:

  1. Collect the data that is relevant
  2. Make the data comparable
  3. Clearly document the data
  4. Share the data frequently and promptly
  5. Publish the data at a stable location
  6. Choose a reusable data format
  7. License others to reuse the data

You can read the article for free on the Lancet Public Health website.

These best practices are straightforward, inexpensive, and achievable. Some countries implemented most of them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More public agencies and organizations following these best practices will enable others to access their data and address the world’s many challenges — including the next pandemic.

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