Building on our Successes: Past and Present

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With the release of our new platform, we wanted to reflect on past successes and share our plans for the future. In this post we highlight how we have built upon Dryad’s historical strength and success to create an even better data service, and how we have expanded our mission and business model to broaden access and usage, and deepen community engagement.

Same mission, new team

In May of 2018, Dryad and the California Digital Library (CDL) partnered to accelerate research data publishing. The partnership has focused on the assessment and revamp of Dryad’s policies and infrastructure, ensuring that Dryad’s service is aligned with the data publishing infrastructure and support needs of the scholarly research community. Dryad’s primary mission continues to be to provide a platform for research data to be curated, published, and shared openly across research communities. 

It has been a very productive year for Dryad. In partnership with CDL, we have upgraded many of our day-to-day operations. For example, our product development team now includes staff from both CDL and Dryad working together on new features and integrations, and rebuilding the architecture underlying our service. However, the partnership does not change the overall mission of Dryad or the way the organization is governed. We remain an independent 501(c)3 governed by a 12-person board, with directors elected by members and representing diverse stakeholders, including representatives from research, data infrastructure, journal publishing, libraries, and research organizations.  

Same vision, new leadership

This month, the Dryad Board of Directors welcomes Caroline Sutton as our new Board Chair. As she takes on this role, we are grateful to our outgoing Board Chair, Chuck Fox. In addition, we thank one of our co-founders, Todd Vision, who is stepping down from the Board of Directors this year after 12 years of service. Throughout his time with Dryad, Todd’s discernment and leadership has been a lodestar for the organization. It has proven essential to Dryad’s growth and its commitment to the mission of promoting data sharing. Todd carries with him the living history of Dryad, and while we know he will continue to support Dryad in many ways, we will miss his input at Board meetings.

In addition to changes at the Board level, we thank Melissanne Scheld who is leaving Dryad this month. Melissanne has served at the Dryad helm during an exciting period of time and, on behalf of the entire Dryad community, we wish Melissanne all the best in her future endeavors. The Board has kicked off the search for a new Executive Director. Please see our job posting for more details. Our new Executive Director will be joining an organization that is in the midst of rapid product development and focused on continuing to build partnerships in the communities we serve. He or she will have the opportunity to work with an outstanding team who demonstrate loyalty and dedication to the Dryad mission and vision, in addition to working closely with our highly professional and driven colleagues at California Digital Library.

Same community, new members

The founding of Dryad was driven by researchers and journal editors who shared a goal of making the sharing of data common practice and a routine part of the scientific publication process. With funding from the US National Science Foundation, and support from journals, scholarly societies, and researchers, the “DRIADE” project (soon to become Dryad) was launched. Originally hosted at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolina, the Dryad team is now widely geographically distributed and independent of any host organization. But we remain just as dedicated to serving the needs of the researchers that use Dryad, and the journals, societies and institutions that partner with us, to make research data as widely available as possible. With a 5 person in-house curation team that checks each dataset against FAIR principles, Dryad also prioritizes data quality, to make data not only sharable and discoverable, but also usable, maximizing the impact of every dataset shared via our service. 

To ensure our continued sustainability, we have worked this past year to expand the types of organizations that are members of the Dryad community. In March, we announced our revised institutional member model, which expanded membership from traditional journals and a couple of founding institutions, to the universities and other institutions that generate research data. We are proud to already have Yale University, California State University-East Bay, Montana State University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology plus, through the CDL partnership, the ten University of California campuses, on board. In addition, we continue to support researchers by integrating our platform into publisher workflows and expanding publisher relationships. Dryad has been lucky to have support from the publishing community over the last decade, and looks forward to launching a revised publisher membership model to continue to build on these successes.

Same Dryad service, new types of data

Since our founding Dryad has focused on publishing datasets associated with published journal articles. This has led us to successfully publish over 29,000 globally accessible datasets, making the data supporting those publications freely available to anyone worldwide. But not all data collected by researchers leads to peer reviewed publications, and many datasets get broken up across publications (to meet journal requirements) and should be published as a cohesive unit. Other datasets may be associated with non-traditional sorts of publications, such as data associated with preprints and software packages, or PhD dissertations and Masters theses. Such datasets need a curated home from which they can be shared and cited as valued research outputs. 

As we announced earlier this week, we have built the capacity to support data deposits that are not associated with the traditional peer-reviewed journal paper in our new platform. We will ensure this new expanded scope of Dryad will include the same curation and access that the Dryad community values, and that associated metadata will allow not only for data discoverability but also ensure that data are understood and can be reused by the community. 

Dryad’s mission is, and always has been, to serve the needs of the scholarly research community. As we reflect on our past, and optimistically look to our future, we see continued growth of our service and remain eager to hear your thoughts. Check out our new platform, follow us on Twitter, and get in touch.

 

New Dryad is Here

The Dryad team has worked over the past year to understand what features are required to best support the research community’s ever-evolving needs. We are proud to announce the launch of our new Dryad platform and we are excited to share with the research community the enhancements that we have made!  

Dryad’s newest features are centered around making data publishing as easy as possible for researchers:

  • In addition to supporting datasets as part of a journal submission, Dryad now also supports datasets being submitted independently
  • Data can be uploaded from cloud storage or lab servers 
  • Datasets can be as large as 300GB
  • Datasets can easily be updated or versioned at any time in our process
  • Standardized data usage and citation statistics are updated and displayed for each published dataset 
  • Data can be submitted and downloaded through our new REST APIs

Since our beginning, Dryad has curated, published, and archived nearly 30,000 datasets underlying scholarly articles. While Dryad began and flourished in the ecology and evolutionary biology communities, it now encompasses the life and biomedical sciences and is gaining larger traction in the broader science and publishing landscapes.  As Dryad expands its disciplinary scope, we are taking into consideration the evolution of data management and publication practices throughout the sciences. 

New features to support current research practices

Because of these changing needs, we believe it is essential to allow for datasets to be submitted and published at any point in the research process. We see the need for datasets to be submitted or published at the point of preprints, micropublications, project completion, null result findings, or in preparation for submitting a manuscript (to name a few). 

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We also understand that data and research are dynamic, so it is important to support versioning and enhanced descriptor fields for these datasets through the research process. As part of the new Dryad, we have increased fields for usage notes, methods, standard vocabularies (i.e., funder), as well as increased file size limits all to enable consistent updating and improvements.

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We believe these changes can allow researchers to make their datasets as usable and understandable (FAIR) as possible, treating each dataset as a citable and valued research output. 

“We aim to build in best practices for research data so researchers don’t have to think about compliance and making their data discoverable.”

-Daniella Lowenberg, Dryad Product Manager

 

The road ahead

Dryad has long been embedded in the scientific communities through support by and for the outputs of funding bodies (i.e., National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, European Commission, private funding agencies, etc) and journal publishers and societies (i.e. The Royal Society, British Ecological Society, American Academy for the Advancement of Science). Going forward, Dryad aims to further build these connections through institutional memberships. We welcome our newest institutional members, and look forward to growing our membership, to support the costs and data publishing needs of their researchers. 

“The features and new capabilities encompassed in our new platform reflect Dryad’s long standing commitment to working with the data sharing community to build a premier data repository service that reflects the evolving needs of researchers, their funders and institutions. I look forward to welcoming new members to this growing global community.”

– Caroline Sutton, Dryad Board Chair

 

The new Dryad platform is just the beginning for our roadmap to make data publishing both robust and seamless. We have already started building integrations with publishing platforms such as Editorial Manager, ScholarOne, and PubSweet that will enable more journals to integrate with Dryad at the point of article submission. 

We will also be working with data analysis and computing spaces like Jupyter, Binder, WholeTale, and rOpenSci to allow for published datasets to be usable within researcher workspaces. To further ensure discoverability of datasets, we are also working with PubMed to allow for Dryad datasets related to articles to be searchable. As we announced earlier this year, we will be building on our partnership with Zenodo that makes software and data publishing a more connected and easy process for both researchers and publishers. 

Get involved

The road ahead is exciting and will take us closer to our goal of supporting researchers and making data publishing easier. We invite you to provide user feedback and potential integration discussions. 

Check out our Github, follow us on Twitter, and get in touch.