The Data on Alcohol and Tobacco in Africa (DATA) project
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University of Cape Town, School of Economics (Southern Africa Labour Development Research Unit), South Africa
University of Cape Town, School of Economics (DataFirst), South Africa
Publish date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A19
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Research-driven tobacco and alcohol control policies need country-specific data. Although several institutions collect data on tobacco and alcohol, few tools exist for discovering and accessing these data in Africa. The goal of the Data on Alcohol and Tobacco in Africa (DATA) Project is to catalogue economic data on tobacco and alcohol in Africa and publish these data for research purposes. The pilot stage of the project focuses on Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, and South Africa, with the goal of expanding across Africa.

Intervention or response:
The DATA Project establishes relationships with data producers and obtains permission to share their data on the project's site. The Project documents our experience in securing data and identifies best practices for increasing open access to data.
The Project curates all secured data, shares these in research-ready datasets, uses metadata to describe data available in external repositories and redirects users to these sites. It also collates time-series data from various publicly available sources into referenced data sheets. Our work saves researchers the time and effort involved in finding and collating data.

Results and lessons learnt:
Currently 69 datasets are listed on the DATA Project's site. These include open access data as well as discovery metadata and links to relevant data available on other sites. Our findings reveal that despite the availability of relevant tobacco and alcohol data, data producers are not using the available tools to facilitate data visibility and access from their websites. We find that data collectors are still reluctant to make their data Open.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
We hope to encourage Open access to data, by providing the essential infrastructure and expertise for data sharing. Additionally, we wish to advance the quality of these data, through data users' feedback. Our efforts should increase Open access data for alcohol and tobacco control in Africa.