Article summarizes benefits of data publication

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.