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Balancing Open Science and Data Privacy In the Water Sciences

Publication Type
Journal Name
Water Resources Research
Publication Date
Page Numbers
5202 to 5211

Open science practices such as publishing data and code are transforming water science by enabling synthesis and enhancing reproducibility. However, as research increasingly bridges the physical and social science domains (e.g., sociohydrology), there is the potential for well-meaning researchers to unintentionally violate the privacy of individuals or communities by sharing sensitive information. Here, we identify the contexts in which privacy violations are most likely to occur, such as working with high-resolution spatial data (e.g., remote sensing), consumer data (e.g., smart meters), and/or digital trace data (e.g., social media). We also suggest best practices for identifying and addressing privacy concerns at the individual, institutional, and disciplinary levels. We strongly advocate that the water science community continue moving towards open science and socio-environmental research and that progress towards these goals be rooted in ethical data sharing.