Transparency is essential for scientific progress. Access to underlying data and materials allows us to make progress through new discoveries and to better evaluate reported findings, which increases trust in science. However, there are challenges to changing norms of scientific practice. Culture change is a slow process because of inertia and the fear of unintended consequences.
One barrier to change that we encounter as we advocate to journals for more data sharing is an editor’s uncertainty about how their publisher will react to such a change. Will they help implement that policy? Will they discourage it because of uncertainty about how it might affect submission numbers or citation rates? With uncertainty, inaction seems to be easier.
“The Science Journals support the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines to raise the quality of research published in Science and to increase transparency regarding the evidence on which conclusions are based….All data used in the analysis must be available to any researcher for purposes of reproducing or extending the analysis. Data must be available in the paper, deposited in a community special-purpose repository, accessible via a general-purpose repository such as Dryad, or otherwise openly available….”
“Two years have passed since I requested release of the PLOS One PACE data, eight months since the Expression of Concern was posted. What can we expect?…
The PLOS One Senior Editors completed the pre-specified process of deciding what to do about the data not being shared. They took no action. …
International trends will continue toward making uploading data into publicly accessible repositories a requirement for publication. PLOS One has slowed down by buying into discredited arguments about patient consent forms not allowing sharing of anonymized data….”
“Science must re-evaluate its open-data policy after retracting a controversial study on microplastics and fish in May (“Editorial Retraction,” J. Berg, 26 May, p. 812 and “Fishy business,” M. Enserink, News Feature, 24 March, p. 1254). The only computer containing the study’s raw data was allegedly stolen and no backups existed on another machine or an online repository. Many are left wondering how this could happen in an era of cloud computing and open data….Publishing verifiable research is a tenet of scientific progress and, ultimately, journals are responsible for guaranteeing compliance with their open-data policy. At a minimum, this responsibility involves a cursory check of the underlying data and ensuring that all data are available for reviewers to assess. Science publishes many papers describing major breakthroughs, but these extraordinary claims must be supported by extraordinary evidence. This includes, first and foremost, a complete and understandable data set that is open to reviewers and, ultimately, becomes open to scientists and the public….”
“Data Descriptors, Scientific Data‘s primary article type, describe scientifically valuable datasets. These datasets must be made available to editors and referees at the time of submission, and must be shared with the scientific community as a condition of publication. Here, we provide information on the types of data that should be archived, guidance for authors on selecting a suitable repository for their data, and how to archive sensitive data.
Scientific Data’s data policies are compatible with the standardised research data policies set out by Springer Nature.
Please read on for our data deposition policies, and please contact us if you would like additional advice on how best to meet these requirements for your own data….”
“PLOS journals require authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exception.
When submitting a manuscript online, authors must provide a Data Availability Statement describing compliance with PLOS’s policy. If the article is accepted for publication, the data availability statement will be published as part of the final article.
Refusal to share data and related metadata and methods in accordance with this policy will be grounds for rejection. PLOS journal editors encourage researchers to contact them if they encounter difficulties in obtaining data from articles published in PLOS journals. If restrictions on access to data come to light after publication, we reserve the right to post a correction, to contact the authors’ institutions and funders, or in extreme cases to retract the publication.
Methods acceptable to PLOS journals with respect to data sharing are listed below, accompanied by guidance for authors as to what must be indicated in their data availability statement and how to follow best practices in reporting. If authors did not collect data themselves but used another source, this source must be credited as appropriate. Authors who have questions or difficulties with the policy, or readers who have difficulty accessing data, are encouraged to contact the relevant journal office or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The data policy was implemented on March 3, 2014….”
Abstract: Background. There is wide agreement in the biomedical research community that research data sharing is a primary ingredient for ensuring that science is more transparent and reproducible. Publishers could play an important role in facilitating and enforcing data sharing; however, many journals have not yet implemented data sharing policies and the requirements vary widely across journals. This study set out to analyze the pervasiveness and quality of data sharing policies in the biomedical literature. Methods. The online author’s instructions and editorial policies for 318 biomedical journals were manually reviewed to analyze the journal’s data sharing requirements and characteristics. The data sharing policies were ranked using a rubric to determine if data sharing was required, recommended, required only for omics data, or not addressed at all. The data sharing method and licensing recommendations were examined, as well any mention of reproducibility or similar concepts. The data was analyzed for patterns relating to publishing volume, Journal Impact Factor, and the publishing model (open access or subscription) of each journal. Results. 11.9% of journals analyzed explicitly stated that data sharing was required as a condition of publication. 9.1% of journals required data sharing, but did not state that it would affect publication decisions. 23.3% of journals had a statement encouraging authors to share their data but did not require it. There was no mention of data sharing in 31.8% of journals. Impact factors were significantly higher for journals with the strongest data sharing policies compared to all other data sharing mark categories. Open access journals were not more likely to require data sharing than subscription journals. Discussion. Our study confirmed earlier investigations which observed that only a minority of biomedical journals require data sharing, and a significant association between higher Impact Factors and journals with a data sharing requirement. Moreover, while 65.7% of the journals in our study that required data sharing addressed the concept of reproducibility, as with earlier investigations, we found that most data sharing policies did not provide specific guidance on the practices that ensure data is maximally available and reusable.
“A flurry of interest has arisen around the revised PLOS data policy that we announced in December and which will come into effect for research papers submitted next month. We are gratified to see a huge swell of support for the ideas behind the policy, but we note some concerns about how it will be implemented and how it will affect those preparing articles for publication in PLOS journals. We’d therefore like to clarify a few points that have arisen and once again encourage those with concerns to check the details of the policy or our FAQs, and to contact us with concerns if we have not covered them….”