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A Simple Tool for Neuroimaging Data Sharing


Christian Haselgrove (University of Massachusetts Medical School)

Data sharing is becoming increasingly common, but despite encouragement and facilitation by funding agencies, journals [1], and some labs and larger research efforts, there remain political, financial, social, and technical barriers to sharing data [2]. In particular, technical solutions are few for researchers that are not a part of larger efforts with dedicated sharing infrastructures, and social excuses such as the time commitment required to share or the lack of motivation to share can keep data from becoming public [3].

We present a system for sharing neuroimaging data, designed to be simple to use and to provide benefit to the data provider. The system consists of a server at the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF) and client tools for uploading data to the server. The primary design principle for the client side is ease of use: the user identifies a directory containing DICOM data and provides his INCF Portal user name and (public) identifiers for the subject and imaging session. The client probes the data for metadata and prompts the user for additional or missing information, then anonymizes the data and sends it to the server. The server first checks anonymization of incoming data, deleting data that is not property anonymized. The server then runs quality control routines on the data, and the data and the quality control reports are made public. The user is notified by e-mail when this is complete, and retains control of the data and may delete it from the server if necessary. The result is that in the time required for upload and quality control processing, including a scant minute or two of the user's time, the data is anonymized, made publicly available, and quality control is performed.

The client tools and access to the public image database are available at

Acknowledgment: This work was conducted within the Neuroimaging Datasharing Task Force of the INCF Program on Standards for Datasharing.


1. Kennedy, DN, et al. Next Steps in Data Publishing. Neuroinformatics. 2011; 9: 317-320. 10.1007/s12021-011-9131-0.

2. Poline JB, et al. Data sharing in neuroimaging research. Frontiers in Neuroinformatics. April 2012; 6: 9. 10.3389/fninf.2012.00009.

3. Ascoli GA. The Ups and Downs of Neuroscience Shares. Neuroinformatics. 2006; 4: 213-6. 10.1385/NI:4:3:213.
A Simple Tool for Neuroimaging Data Sharing
Quality control report (top) and public download page (bottom) for shared data.
Preferred presentation format: Demo
Why demo: Since this abstract describes a working tool, it would be much more illustrative to be able to show both the client side and the database in action than to describe the system off a poster with figures. A demo would also allow for more immediate and detailed feedback from visitors, which will benefit the system.
Topic: Infrastructural and portal services

Andrew Davison
Andrew Davison says:
May 11, 2012 02:14 PM
I fully agree with the need to emphasize simplicity/ease-of-use and immediate benefit to the data provider in neuroinformatics tools. I also think it is important to showcase the outcomes of INCF programs.