The Push to Replace Journal Supplements with Repositories | The Scientist Magazine®

“But it’s not just broken hyperlinks that frustrate scientists. As papers get more data-intensive and complex, supplementary files often become many times longer than the manuscript itself—in some extreme cases, ballooning to more than 100 pages. Because these files are typically published as PDFs, they can be a pain to navigate, so even if they are available, the information within them can get overlooked. “Most supplementary materials are just one big block and not very useful,” Cooper says.

Another issue is that these files are home to most of a study’s published data, and “you can’t extract data from PDFs except using complex software—and it’s a slow process that has errors,” Murray-Rust tells The Scientist. “This data is often deposited as a token of depositing data, rather than people actually wanting to reuse it.”…

Depositing material that would end up in supplementary files in places other than the journal is becoming an increasingly common practice. Some academics opt to post this information on their own websites, but many others are turning to online repositories offered by universities, research institutions, and companies. …

There are advantages these repositories provide over journal articles, according to Holt. For one, repositories offer the ability to better store and interact with large amounts of openly accessible data than journals typically do. In addition, repositories’ files are labelled with a digital object identifier (DOI), meaning researchers can easily link to it from a published article and make sure to get credit for their work….”