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
This has now been followed up by a BBC story (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14314501), and a JISC press release (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/stories/2011/08/peer.aspx) that stresses the importance of DryadUK among its funded projects:
“JISC is already acting on a number of the recommendations – including funding the Dryad project mentioned in the report. Dryad-UK provides a repository for the data underpinning research articles, encouraging greater research openness. The BMJ Open journal and titles from BioMedCentral and PLoS have become partners, integrating their submission process with Dryad and strongly encouraging authors to deposit research data.”