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Archive for the ‘Data availability’ Category

Our last post celebrated the 1000th data package in Dryad. This week, with the release of two data packages associated with articles in Ecological Monographs, we celebrate another important milestone, our 100th journal.

We believe this validates one of the premises on which Dryad was founded, that a non-specialist data repository can serve as shared infrastructure for a large and diverse set of journals.  As a group, they have little in common, serving authors and readers from many different research communities, nationalities, types of institutional affiliation, etc., and working with many different kinds of data.  Some are owned by societies, some by commercial publishers, some by not-for-profits.  Some are Open Access, many are not.  Some have specialized disciplinary or taxonomic scope (e.g. including journals that publish on birds, herps, insects, mammals, plants, protists, viruses, etc.) while some publish findings from all corners of science (Nature, PNAS, Science).

Interestingly, this set of 100 is roughly five times the number of journals that have integrated manuscript submission with Dryad in order to facilitate authors’ data archiving.  While the integrated journals still account for the majority of new data submissions, we are pleased to continue receiving data volunteered by authors publishing in outlets new to Dryad.

The journals that have integrated their manuscript processing with Dryad to date are mostly, though not exclusively, from the fields of evolutionary biology and ecology:

  • The American Naturalist
  • Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
  • BMJ Open (an important first step in that it is our first integrated biomedical journal)
  • Ecological Monographs
  • Evolution
  • Evolutionary Applications
  • Heredity
  • Journal of Evolutionary Biology
  • Journal of Heredity
  • Molecular Ecology and Molecular Ecology Resources
  • Paleobiology
  • Pensoft Publishers – 8 different journals
  • Systematic Biology

But Dryad’s broadening disciplinary coverage is best illustrated by listing some of the journals with content in the repository that have not, at least not yet, implemented integrated submission:

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biotropica
  • Conservation Genetics
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Evolution and Development
  • Frontiers in Psychology
  • Genome Biology and Evolution
  • Human Genomics
  • Integrative and Comparative Biology
  • Journal of Biogeography
  • Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
  • The Journal of Parasitology
  • Limnology and Oceanography
  • The Plant Cell
  • PLoS Pathogens
  • Symbiosis
  • Toxicon

And we are particularly pleased by the irony of hosting data from Genesis ;)

If you are an editor, publisher, or just a passionate reader of a journal that currently has content in Dryad (you can find out for yourself here), and you would like to talk about how manuscript submission integration could strengthen the service that Dryad provides to your journal, then please contact us.

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Dryad has won high-level support from the UK Parliament. Its Select Committee on Science and Technology has been reporting on the peer review of scientific publications. Among the questions it considered was:  How far should reviewers be expected to go to assess technical soundness? The report discusses the feasibility of reviewing the underlying data behind research, and how those data should be managed.

Section 4 of the report (para 189) concludes:

If reviewers and editors are to assess whether authors of manuscripts are providing sufficient accompanying data, it is essential that they are given confidential access to relevant data associated with the work during the peer-review process. This can be problematical in the case of the large and complex datasets which are becoming increasingly common. The Dryad project is an initiative seeking to address this. If it proves successful, funding should be sought to expand it to other disciplines. Alternatively, we recommend that funders of research and publishers work together to develop similar repositories for other disciplines.

The Science and Technology Committee concludes that in order to allow others to repeat and build on experiments, researchers should aim for the gold standard of making their data fully disclosed and made publicly available:

Access to data is fundamental if researchers are to reproduce, verify and build on results that are reported in the literature. We welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of openness and transparency. The presumption must be that, unless there is a strong reason otherwise, data should be fully disclosed and made publicly available. In line with this principle, where possible, data associated with all publicly funded research should be made widely and freely available. Funders of research must coordinate with publishers to ensure that researchers disclose their data in a timely manner. The work of researchers who expend time and effort adding value to their data, to make it usable by others, should be acknowledged as a valuable part of their role. Research funders and publishers should explore how researchers could be encouraged to add this value.

H.M.S.O. Science and Technology  Committee. Eighth Report: Peer review in scientific publications. Published 28 July 2011  Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmsctech/856/85602.htm

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Dryad is pleased to welcome BMJ Open as a new partner journal, reflecting the recently expanded scope of repository to be inclusive of all of basic and applied biosciences, including medicine. BMJ Open is a new online-only, open access journal from the esteemed London-based BMJ Group.  It is dedicated to publishing medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas, utilizing fully open peer review and immediate online publication.

BMJ Open authors are now being strongly encouraged to deposit the data underlying their articles in Dryad or a more specialized repository, as appropriate.  Authors submitting articles to the journal will benefit from Dryad’s journal submission integration, the process by which data deposit is streamlined for authors through behind-the-scenes communication between the journal and the repository.

An extremely important issue with archiving medical data is, of course, the need to protect patient privacy. To assist its authors, BMJ Open is providing special guidance on data sharing.  Authors must be able to release data to the public domain as with all data in Dryad, and the repository will err on the side of caution by turning back any data that may compromise patient privacy.

To quote from the BMJ Group press release:

Data sharing aims to help scientists and doctors validate and scrutinise researchers’ findings in a bid to prevent fraud and eradicate the kind of selective reporting that has enabled some treatments to acquire regulatory approval, based on incomplete and biased data. In some cases this lack of transparency has prompted the subsequent restriction or withdrawal of certain treatments because of patient safety or effectiveness concerns, which were already evident in the unpublished data.  Data repositories also allow researchers to develop new methods of analysis and use the data to answer questions that the original researchers have not thought of. They also facilitate the acquisition of data for meta analysis (more in-depth comparative reviews).

Commenting on the move, Dr Trish Groves, editor in chief of BMJ Open, said: “Since launch, BMJ Open has championed transparency in medical research through open peer review, open access, and full reporting of studies’ methods and results, all exemplified by last week’s paper on the safety (or not) of medical devices (doi:10.5061/dryad.585t4)…”

This data package in Dryad, which illustrates the tremendous value of medical data for informing medical policy and practice without compromising patient privacy, is available at:

  • Heneghan C, Thompson M, Billingsley M, Cohen D (2011) Data from: Medical-device recalls in the UK and the device-regulation process: retrospective review of safety notices and alerts. Dryad Digital Repository. doi:10.5061/dryad.585t4

Groves goes on to say

We strongly encourage authors to share their datasets, and now we’re delighted to be making that easier to do, with the help of DryadUK.

Kudos to the Dryad UK project team, based at the British Library, for facilitating this pioneering partnership.

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Dryad is happy to announce a new initiative with Pensoft Publishers, the pioneering publisher behind ZooKeys and other rapid-publication open access journals, including BioRisk, Comparative Cytogenetics, International Journal of Myriapodology, Journal of Hymenoptera Research, NeoBiota, PhytoKeys, and Subterranean Biology.  Dryad is working with Pensoft to support publication of data papers in the area of biodiversity, together with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Barcode of Life.  Through this effort, we aim to make the data publishing experience as smooth and rewarding as possible for authors, while at the same time making sure these important data are vetted through peer review and available for reuse in public repositories.  The full press release from Pensoft is below.

Data publishing policies and guidelines for biodiversity data published by Pensoft

Pensoft Publishers announced a data publishing project for biodiversity data in response to the increasing demands from institutions and scientists to open scientific data to anyone who would be interested to use them.

“An opinion survey amongst the authors, readers and editors of the Pensoft journal ZooKeys carried out in April convinced us that the majority of participants (84 %) are willing to publish their data, so that to make them available to anyone to use, share or integrate with other data” said Dr Lyubomir Penev, managing director of Pensoft Publishers. Among the most important incentives to publish data, the scientists mentioned  that  “open data increases transparency and the overall quality of science, the potential for collaborative research as well as an opportunity to increase academic credit in the form of citations. Therefore, providing a service to ensure a permanent publication record for published data is of key importance for the success of the project”, adds Dr Penev.

The core of the project is the concept of the “Data Paper” developed in a cooperation with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Data Papers are peer-reviewed scholarly publications that describe the published datasets and provide an opportunity to data authors to receive the academic credit for their efforts. Currently, Pensoft offers the opportunity to published Data papers describing biodiversity data, Barcode of Life genome data and biodiversity-related software tools, such as interactive keys and others.

Pensoft reached an agreement for cooperation in data hosting and developing of data publishing workflows with the GBIF, the Dryad Data Repository and the Consortium for Barcode of Life.

“Data publishing becomes increasingly important and already affects the policies of the world’s leading science funding frameworks and organizations. Opening and integrating biodiversity data will be the future basis to increase efficiency of monitoring the processes of global change, conservation of nature and saving life on our planet” concluded Dr Vincent Smith, coordinator of the European Union FP7 project ViBRANT, in the framework of which a part of the work has been carried out.

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If you have recently published data in Dryad, chances are it was in the course of publishing an article at a partner journal that steered you our way.

But you may be aware that Dryad accepts data from any peer-reviewed article in biology or biomedicine.  That includes journals that are not (at least not yet) partners.  In fact, as of the the time of writing, Dryad has data associated with articles in 79 journals, approximately four times the number of partners.

Dryad even accepts data from articles that have already been published.  Now, why might you wish to go to the trouble of rummaging through those old files and putting your legacy data online?

Well, we noticed a while back that some individuals were beginning to do this systematically.  For example, there was a sudden influx of data packages with Frédéric Delsuc’s name on them a little while back.  Delsuc, of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Université Montpellier, is a member of an international team of collaborators (from France, Norway, Canada, Spain, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States) that has been using DNA sequence data to reconstruct the evolutionary history of a wide range of vertebrates and vertebrate relatives, from anteaters to sea squirts.

Giant Anteaters

Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). The pup clinging to his mother is Cyrano, who was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 2009. Photo credit: Mehgan Murphy, CC-BY-NC-ND, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

So far, Delsuc and his team [1] have deposited data from 20 articles in Dryad. The articles are in partner journals such as Molecular Biology and Evolution, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Systematic Biology, as well as more general science journals such as Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

The articles stretch back to 2002, a time when most new desktop computers were still being outfitted with floppy drives. (Remember those?)

We asked Delsuc what he saw as the advantages to archiving his team’s heritage of legacy data?

We [...] decided in our team to try to systematically submit our datasets to Dryad because we really think they are valuable. Dryad offers a very nice way of archiving the data ensuring their durability over time.

For Delsuc and his team, no more rummaging through old storage devices to find the files when they receive an email request.  No more worrying about the data when  lab or departmental websites move.  They just need to point their colleagues to Dryad.

It has been reported that the number one reason cited when scientists are asked why they have denied their colleagues’ requests for data in the past was the amount of effort required to dig them up [2].  Delsuc’s and his team intuitively understood that, and went back to archive their data before memories faded, storage devices failed, and graduate students moved on.

The downside to archiving legacy data in this way is that an article’s readers won’t immediately know about the existence of the Dryad data package, since the data DOI will not be published within the text. So, while archiving legacy data has its advantages, there is no substitute for depositing the data before the article is published, as Dryad does with the new articles appearing in its partner journals.

To give Delsuc the final word:

It would be great if more and more journals in the field decide to include data deposit in their publication policies.

[1] Equipe Phylogénie et Evolution Moléculaire” (Phylogeny and Molecular Evolution team) of the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution (Institute of Evolutionary Sciences), part of the CNRS: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (French National Centre for Scientific Research) and the Université Montpellier 2 (University of Montpellier 2).

[2] Campbell EG et al. (2002) Data Withholding in Academic Genetics: Evidence From a National Survey. JAMA 287(4):473-480. doi:10.1001/jama.287.4.473

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Researchers working in data-intensive science, as well as science editors and publishers thinking about data policies, may want to take note of a new article by Michael Whitlock, Data archiving in ecology and evolution: best practices in the current issue of Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

Whitlock has long been a leader in advocating for data archiving and is the current Chair of the Dryad Consortium Board.  In this article he presents concrete suggestions for the what, how and when of data archiving.

But archiving is only half the equation.  Whitlock attempts to articulate sensible guidelines for data reuse, as well. Under what circumstances should researchers contact the original creators of the data set they are re-using, and when is co-authorship appropriate? How should authors properly acknowledge the original creators of the data?

Journals, editors, and publishers have an important role in promoting both data archiving and responsible data reuse.  One problem that merits broader discussion is how journals can conduct peer review so as to prevent data misuse.  Should researchers be given a chance to review manuscripts that report on new results reusing data that they originally published?  Or is it better to avoid the potential for conflict of interest (e.g. “how dare they not replicate my findings!”) and instead recruit independent experts?

Although the article is especially timely for those working in evolutionary biology and ecology, due to the recent adoption of mandatory data archiving at many of the leading journals in the field, these best practice recommendations are relevant across the sciences.

Michael C. Whitlock (2011) Data archiving in ecology and evolution: best practices, Trends in Ecology & Evolution,  26 (2): 61-65.  doi:10.1016/j.tree.2010.11.006.

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Are you curious about what’s involved in depositing data in Dryad? looking for a quick way to show colleagues how straightforward data archiving can be?  Dryad’s new 2-minute video demonstrates the data deposit process from start to finish.

How to deposit data in Dryad

The video is embedded on the Dryad website, and also available on SciVee. Feel free to link to it and share it with colleagues.

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