Facilitating data sharing in times of crisis

Dryad has long committed to the sharing of open data, supporting authors in depositing data and providing FAIR curation to improve metadata and data quality. We believe this mission is important always, supporting the advancement of science, but in light of the current public health crisis related to COVID-19 we see the need for extra rapid curation and publication of pandemic related datasets. This public health crisis has changed the way we work as a society and has also changed scientific needs for rapid dissemination and analysis of research data and publications.

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak we have seen amazing examples of the value of open data as well as the challenges of data variety, identifying sources and aggregating information. So many in the scientific community are putting exemplary energy and work into these efforts including Our World in Data, Nextstrain, The COVID Tracking project, GISAID and the GO FAIR Virus Outbreak Data Network to name just a few. These efforts are a tribute to scientists – as scientists and as people.

It is imperative that the community rapidly disseminate datasets related to COVID-19, and we must acknowledge that data quality is variable. Access to research data is critical, but it’s also essential that data are accompanied by high-quality metadata that can facilitate more effective and efficient reuse. Datasets need to be understood, checked and cleaned for personally identifiable information, standard metadata and accessible file types. Curation checks, while a slight delay in publication, can improve data quality for easier reuse and overall speed of the rate and quality of analyses.

During times of crisis when labs have closed down, we understand that many researchers are working with their previously collected data, applying computational approaches, analyzing or evaluating open datasets from other labs, and continuing to turn these data into knowledge. Dryad will continue to curate and publish all incoming research datasets, supporting all domains of research. 

We are also ever-conscious of the needs for rapid data curation and publication, and we are taking extra steps within the current climate to look out for public health, economic, sociologic and other datasets related to the pandemic. We are committed to working with the research community, including publishers and preprint providers, to facilitate the rapid and high-quality curation review and publication of any pandemic related data. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help.

This is one crisis that has the world’s attention that requires rapid, coordinated response. But there are so many other moments that are important in individual communities, to specific topics, or to global challenges that may not seem as fast moving, such as climate change. In all of these moments, data sharing that is efficient and data we can trust is crucial. At Dryad we are thinking about our current practices, as well as what we can learn for future situations, curating and publishing datasets, so we can all continue to go further together.

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