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Archive for October, 2009

A recent article, Motivating Online Publication of Data, in BioScience identifies multiple benefits for scientific authors when they publish data online.   Among them are:

•    additional publications
•    greater citation rate
•    invitations to collaborate

Author Mark Costello is a marine biologist at the University of Auckland, and has written widely on ocean biodiversity informatics.

Costello argues that Considering that science is based on observations, it is astonishing that the publication of primary data is not a universal and mandatory part of science.

He presents a cogent analysis of why data publication is crucial, how it can be encouraged, and what scientists, editors, and publishers must do to ensure access to data.   In addition to itemizing varied and far-reaching benefits to data archiving, he also repeats oft-stated reasons scientists have given for not making their data available, and rebuts them succinctly.

Authors are not the only beneficiaries when data is openly available.   Considerable benefits exist for editors, publishers, data centers and funding agencies, including:

•    independent verification of research findings
•    increased citations to related research papers
•    better financial return from research investment

Data sharing is fundamental for scientific advancement; no arguments there.  But how encourage data publication as a routine component of scientific research?  We need to identify the benefits, and ensure that repositories, publishers, and other participants in the research process pay attention to incentives, implicit and otherwise, throughout the publication cycle.

Costello’s article is a good place to start.

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The first meeting of the Dryad Consortium Management Board was held May 21-22, 2009 at NESCent in Durham, NC. Representatives from over a dozen journals met to launch and plan for the future of the consortium. Topics discussed included board governance, repository sustainability, the Joint Data Archiving Policy, intellectual property, repository policy, interactions with journals and other repositories, repository software development plans, and community engagement.

Attendees included:

•    William Michener* (Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs, Ecology)
•    Allen Moore* (Journal of Evolutionary Biology)
•    Mohamed Noor (Evolution)
•    Rod Page (Systematic Biology)
•    Michelle Tseng (Evolutionary Applications)
•    Marcy Uyenoyama* (Molecular Biology and Evolution)
•    Tim Vines* (Molecular Ecology)
•    Michael Whitlock* (American Naturalist)
•    Derek Wildman (Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution)
•    Harold Heatwole (Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology)
•    Pete Wagner (Journal of Paleontology, Paleobiology)
•    Marcel Holyoak (Ecology Letters)
•    Scott Baker (Journal of Heredity)
•    Erica Fleishman (Conservation Biology)
•    John A Allen (Biological Journal of the Linnean Society)

*=Executive Committee members

A summary of the meeting is available. The next meeting will be held Dec. 14 & 15, 2009, in London, UK, further information available here. Journals & editors interested in joining the Board and guiding the growth of data archiving and the development of Dryad should contact Todd Vision,  Associate Director for Informatics, The US National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

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