A quick search for “Andrew Hendry” in DRYAD found data for 16 papers published between 2010 and 2015 (stats for all DRYAD on Dec. 12, 2015 are above). One of my papers was, in fact, based on a long-term (20 years) individual-based study run by my collaborators, who are not authors on the above TREE paper. These data “packages” (the webpage showing the paper information with the list of data files) have been viewed a total of 3788 times, a much larger number than I had expected. Three of the packages have been viewed more than 500 times and one nearly 1000 times! However, only a fraction of these views lead to downloads. Counting only the most-downloaded data file per paper, downloads totaled 564, still a surprisingly large number. One data file has been downloaded more than 148 times! Some interesting (and perhaps obvious) patterns were evident. First, the number of downloads was strongly correlated with the number of views (first figure below), although this correlation is quite imperfect. For instance, one data file has been downloaded 25 times on 26 views (96%), whereas another has been downloaded only 68 times in 975 views (7%). Downloads and views are, not surprisingly, higher for older papers; and the highest frequency of downloads to views (96%) is for one of the most recent papers. Finally, the number of times a paper is cited is correlated with the number of downloads considering only data packages posted before 2014 (second figure below). Only part of this association is due to the effects of publication date.
At this point, my first thought was "Wow, it looks like freely-accessible data is, indeed, freely accessed – frequently." So how often have I been scooped or how often has my data been used inappropriately? Never, to my knowledge. As far as I can tell, an analysis of these data has never been published anywhere. How can this be? Perhaps robots are downloading my data. Perhaps my data sucks and this is only noticed after a download. Perhaps the data are being used but only in meta-analyses. Or, perhaps, I am about to be scooped soon! However, I suggest the more innocent alternative. People are curious and interested but they have no intention of taking the data and publishing it to their own ends. Don’t worry, be happy.