I am in the middle of an authorship dispute and need some help. Raw data was shared with me by a Master's student, and we re-analyzed the data for the publication. I was going under the assumption that the data were already published. Summary statistics (e.g. mean and standard deviations) are all publicly available in the thesis. We re-analyzed the data so that it we could combine with our own data.

If summary statistics of data are freely available online (and not subject to copyright issues) what does this mean for the raw data? Any relevant links will be much appreciated. Note the dispute is with a previous advisor of the student, not the student themselves.

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    If a paper was published previously by that group, was the raw data included in the supplementary materials?
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 29, 2022 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


Publication of summary statistics implies nothing about the raw data.


If summary statistics of a cohort of students enrolling in an university is available online, does it mean the raw data can always be distributed freely?

You can easily come up with any similar example. The answer is no.

Having access to summary statistics (1) and having (the right to) access the raw data (2) are irrelevant. You can recreate (1) if you have access to (2) but not vice versa.

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    Even if we used the raw data the recreate the summary statistics of university enrollment? Nov 29, 2022 at 22:07
  • The point is that you have to get the right to access to the raw data first. On the basis of freely-available summary statistics, it does not grant you the right. People with permission can recreate the summary statistics without any dispute. For example, my supervisor used to show me highly detailed summary statistics (not just basic statistics) of a dataset in class, and he told me that in order to have access to the raw data before doing any computation, I had to sign a 20-page document. That is the point.
    – Neuchâtel
    Nov 29, 2022 at 22:24

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