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Archive for the ‘Data curation’ Category

In our latest post, our Executive Director Melissanne Scheld sits down with Dryad’s Board of Directors Chair, Professor Charles Fox, to discuss challenges researchers face today, how Dryad is helping alleviate some of those pain points, why Dryad has had such staying power in a quickly changing industry,  . . . and then we move on to dessert. 

Chuck Fox

Can you tell us a little about your professional background and how that intersects with Dryad’s mission?

I wear two hats in my professional life – I am an evolutionary ecologist who studies various aspects of insect biology at the University of Kentucky, and I am a journal editor (Executive Editor of Functional Ecology).

My involvement with open data and Dryad began fortuitously in 2006. The British Ecological Society was invited to send a representative to a Data Registry Workshop, organized by the Ecological Society of America, to be held that December in Santa Barbara, California. I am (and was at that time) an editor of one of the British Ecological Society’s journals, Functional Ecology, and I live in the U.S. So Lindsay Haddon, who was Publications Manager for the BES, asked me to attend the workshop  as their representative. Before that meeting I don’t recall having thought much about open data or data archives, but I was excited to attend the meeting in part because the topic intrigued me and, selfishly, because my parents live in southern California and this was an opportunity to visit them. The discussions at that meeting, plus those at a couple follow-up meetings over the next couple years, including one at NESCent in Durham, North Carolina, and another in Vancouver, convinced me that data publishing, and open data more generally, should be a part of research publication. So I began lobbying the BES to adopt an open data policy and become a founding member of Dryad. I wrote a proposed data policy – just a revision of the Journal Sata Archiving Policy, JDAP, that many ecology and evolution journals adopted – and submitted that proposal to the BES’ publication committee. It took a few years, but in 2011 the BES adopted that data policy across their suite of journals and became a member of Dryad. The BES has since been a strong supporter of open data and required data publication as a condition of publishing a manuscript in one of their journals. Probably because I was a vocal proponent of data policies at BES meetings (along with a few others, most notably Tim Coulson), I was nominated to be a Dryad board member, and was elected to the board in 2013.

As an educator,  what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the classroom during your career?

When I started teaching, first as a graduate student (teaching assistant) and then as a young university professor, we didn’t have Powerpoint and digital projectors. So I made heavy use of a chalkboard (or dry erase board) during lecture, and used an overhead projector for more complicated graphics. Students had to take detailed notes on the lecture, which required them to write furiously all throughout the class. Nowadays I produce detailed PowerPoint slides that include most of the material I cover, so I write very little on the chalkboard. And, because I can provide my slides to students before class – as a pdf that they can print and bring to class – the students are freed from scribbling furiously to capture every detail. Students still need to take some notes (my slides do not include every detail), but they are largely freed to listen to lecture and participate in class discussions. I am not convinced, though, that these changes have led to improved learning, at least not in all students. Having information too easily available, including downloadable class materials, seems to cause some students to actually disengage from class, and ultimately do poorly, possibly because they think they don’t need to attend class, or engage when they do attend, since they have all of the materials easily accessible to them outside the classroom?

What do you think the biggest challenges are for open science research today?

I have been amazed at how quickly open data has become accepted as the standard in the ecology and evolution research communities. When data policies were first proposed to journals there was substantial resistance to their adoption – journals were nervous about possibly driving away authors, and editors (who are also researchers) shared the views that were common in the community regarding ownership of their own data – but over just a few years the resistance largely disappeared among editors, societies and publishers, such that a large proportion of the top journals in the field have adopted policies requiring data to be published alongside research manuscripts. That said, some significant challenges remain, both on the researcher side and on the repository side. On the repository side, sustainable funding remains the largest hurdle. Data repositories cost money to run, such as for staff and infrastructure. Dryad has been relying on a mix of data publication charges (DPCs) and grants to fund its mission. This has worked for us so far, but constantly chasing grants is a lot of work for those writing grants, and the cost to researchers paying DPCs, albeit small, is not trivial for those without grant support.

On the researcher side, though data publishing has mostly become an accepted part of research publication in the community, there remain many important cultural and practical challenges to making open data universally practiced.  These include the development of standards for data citation and reuse (not restrictions on data reuse, but community expectations for citation and collaboration), balancing views of data ownership with the needs of the community, balancing the concerns of researchers that produce long-term datasets with those of the community, and others. We also need to improve education about data, such as teaching our students how to organize and properly annotate their datasets so that they are useful for other researchers after publication. Even when data are made available by researchers, actually using those data can be challenging if they are not well organized and annotated.

When researchers are deciding in which repository to deposit their research data, what values and functions should they consider?

Researchers should choose a repository that best fits the type of data they have to deposit and the community that will likely be reusing it. There are many repositories that handle specialized data types, such as genetic sequence data or data to be used for phylogenetic analysis. If your data suits a specialized archive, choose that. But the overwhelming majority of data generated by ecologists don’t fit into specialized archives. It’s for these types of data that Dryad was developed.

So what does Dryad offer researchers? From the perspective of the dataset author, Dryad links your dataset directly to the manuscript you have published about the dataset. This provides users detailed metadata on the contents of your dataset, helping them understand the dataset and use it correctly for future research. Dryad also ensures that your dataset is discoverable, whether you start at the journal page, on Dryad’s site, or any of a large number of collaborator services. The value of Dryad to the dataset user are similar – easy discoverability of data and clear links to the data collection details (i.e., links to the associated manuscripts).  

You’ve held several roles on Dryad’s Board of Directors – what about this organization compels you to volunteer your free time?

My experiences as a scientist, a journal editor, and participating in open data discussions have convinced me that data publication is an essential part of research publication. For decades, or even centuries, we’ve relied on a publishing model where researchers write manuscripts that describe the work they have done and summarize their results and conclusions for the broader community. That’s the typical journal paper, and was the limit of what could be done in an age where everything had to fit onto the printed page and be distributed on paper. Nowadays we have near infinite space in a digital medium to not just summarize our results, but also provide all of the details, including the actual data, as part of the research presentation. It will always be important to have an author summarize their findings and place their work into context – that intellectual contribution is an essential part of communicating your research – but there’s no reason that’s where we need to stop. I imagine a world where a reader can click on a figure, or table, or other part of a manuscript and be taken directly to the relevant details – the actual data presented in the figure, the statistical models underlying the analyses, more detailed descriptions of study sites or organisms, and possibly many other types of information about the experiment, data collection, equipment used, results, etc. We shouldn’t be constrained by historical limitations of the printed page. We’re not yet even close to where I think we can and should be  going, but making data an integral part of research publication is a huge step in the right direction. So I enthusiastically support journal mandates that require data to be published alongside each manuscript presenting research results. And facilitating this is a core part of Dryad’s mission, which leads me to enthusiastically support both Dryad’s mission and the organization itself!

Pumpkin or apple pie?  

Those are my two favorite pies, so it’s a tough question. If served a la mode, i.e., with ice cream, then I’d most often pick apple pie. But, without ice cream, I’d have to choose pumpkin pie.

Stay tuned for future conversations with industry thought leaders and other relevant blog posts here at Dryad News and Views.

 

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There’s been important discussion lately about how to make research more inclusive, equitable, diverse, and global. See the recent 2018 International Open Access Week, and International Data Week, happening now in Gaborne, Botswana, with the theme “Digital Frontiers of Global Science.”

Dryad is among these organizations seeking to provide sustainable, open scholarly infrastructure that is accessible to all. As such, we use the CC0 license exclusively, and offer fee waivers for researchers based in countries classified by the World Bank as low-income or lower-middle-income economies. Our burgeoning partnership with California Digital Library promises to make data publishing even easier for all researchers.

In celebration of a global perspective, the Dryad curation team has selected a few data packages that highlight both a wide geographic range and a collaborative approach to research projects.

Penguin imaging and classification in Antarctica

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Data from: Time-lapse imagery and volunteer classifications from the Zooniverse Penguin Watch project / associated article in Scientific Data

Data from: A remote-controlled observatory for behavioural and ecological research: a case study on emperor penguins / associated article in Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Antarctica may be a fine spot for penguins, but the cold conditions make it an inhospitable location for human beings to spend long periods. It is especially challenging for scientists engaged in gathering data under the frigid conditions and for their equipment. Two recent Dryad data packages highlight how scientists have addressed this chilly challenge with the use of remote observation systems. One provides data from a remote‐controlled system designed for information gathering, and the other employs citizen science to process large numbers of time-lapse images gathered remotely from an automated system.

The images that comprise the data from the Zooniverse project Penguin Watch are much more than just cool photos of penguins. They are the result of automated time-lapse cameras used for reliably and consistently monitoring wild penguin populations. The data includes 73,802 photos captured by 15 different Penguin Watch cameras, and the authors expressed the hope that annotated time-lapse imagery can be used to train machine learning algorithms to extract data automatically and perhaps for computer vision development.

The video and images from Richter et al. were taken by a self-sufficient remote-controlled observatory designed to operate year-round in extreme cold-weather conditions. The observatory has been capturing high-resolution images of penguins, along with other data, since 2013 using “multiple overview cameras and a high-resolution steerable camera with a telephoto lens.” The resulting images and video provide information on the life cycle, demographics, and behavior of the animals. For example, the dataset shows how the movement of penguins as individuals and as a group might be associated with the speed and direction of the wind.

Both datasets show how remote observation systems can be used by human investigators in various locations to collect data on animal populations, even in areas of the world which provide challenges to scientists.

— Debra Fagan

Collaborating across disciplines in Indonesia

 

Data from: Competing for blood: the ecology of parasite resource competition in human malaria-helminth co-infections / associated article in Ecology Letters

An international team of researchers reveal new knowledge about “co-infections,” multiple infectious diseases that attack the immune system at once. Budischak et al. (2018) used principles of ecological theory to answer questions about helminth-malaria co-infection in human hosts. Rather than measuring prevalence of malaria after deworming, as previous studies had done with varied results, Budischak et al. measured the density of specific species within an individual over time.

The researchers hypothesized that competition for resources, in this case red blood cells, would have an affect on the density of those species within the host. Data and samples originally collected for a 2 year placebo-controlled deworming trial in Indonesia were analyzed, and they found that when bloodsucking helminth species were removed, the density of Plasmodium vivax, which rely specifically on young red blood cells, increased 2.75-fold. This increase is enough to adversely affect the health of an individual, and heighten the chances that mosquitoes will transmit the P. vivax from one individual to another.

The researchers suggest that where resources allow, health care providers should consider the specific species that are co-infecting an individual, and weigh the cost-benefits of deworming at that time. These findings lay the groundwork for novel treatments of malaria and worm infections.

— Erin Clary

Assessing the potential of environmental citizen science in East Africa

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Data from: Developing the global potential of citizen science: Assessing opportunities that benefit people, society and the environment in East Africa / associated article in the Journal of Applied Ecology

Citizen science projects often suffer from limited visibility in developing countries. Recognizing this difficulty, these authors undertook a collaborative process with experts to assess the potential for environmental citizen science in East Africa. The .csv file published in Dryad contains scores given by workshop participants in relation to various opportunities, benefits and barriers, which serve as the basis for principles that are applicable more widely.

Importantly, the project emphasizes the benefits of citizen science not just to the natural environment, but for creating a more informed and empowered populace.

Fighting lupus in Latin America

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Data from: First Latin American clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosusassociated article in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

Dryad recently published data underlying collaborative research by the Latin American Group for the Study of Lupus (GLADEL) and the Pan-American League of Associations of Rheumatology (PANLAR). Both groups consisted of experienced Latin American rheumatologists who gathered together in Panama City to discuss special problems faced by patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Latin America.

The group started the research process by putting together a list of questions addressing clinical issues most commonly seen in Latin American patients. The team used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system to answer these questions with the best available evidence. Summarized preliminary findings were used to develop a framework for therapies and treatments. The underlying dataset published by Dryad consists of tables describing the groups’ main findings of therapeutic interventions by organ/systems in SLE using the GRADE approach.

This dataset has potential for reuse and would be an excellent resource for the of study of lupus in the hopes of improving outcomes in Latin America and worldwide.

— Shavon Stewart

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This is the second in a series of blog posts highlighting new guidance from the Dryad curation team. Part 1 covered human subjects data. Part 2, from curator Shavon Stewart, focuses on best practices for sharing data associated with endangered species.


Ensuring safe data sharing for species under threat

Tasmanian devils, mountain gorillas, and black rhinos all have one thing in common. They are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Data archived in Dryad are publicly available, therefore, potential risks to endangered and vulnerable species must be carefully assessed before submitting data.

It is imperative that threatened species remain safe in their natural habitat. Publishing location data and habitat descriptions can expose species to hunters, poachers, and wildlife enthusiasts which can lead to their further decline, as well as hinder conservation efforts. The key is to provide fewer details of the species’ location for those with the intention of doing harm, without overly compromising analyses or replication by other researchers.

Here at Dryad, we recommend simple actions such as masking coordinates by a few decimal points or removing exact geo-coordinates from the dataset, which can limit illegal access to these vulnerable creatures.

Modified geo-coordinates for the breeding sites of Falco naumanni, from https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jq87d

Researchers who work with vulnerable species are encouraged to consult the following resources prior to submitting data:

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Two cheetahs running

Image credit Cat Specialist Group, catsg.org

Dryad is thrilled to announce a strategic partnership with California Digital Library (CDL) to address researcher needs by leading an open, community-supported initiative in research data curation and publishing.

Dryad was founded 10 years ago with the mission of providing open, not-for-profit infrastructure for data underlying the scholarly literature, and the vision of promoting a world where research data is openly available and routinely re-used to create knowledge.

20,000 data publications later, that message has clearly resonated. The Dryad model of embedding data publication within journal workflows has proven highly effective, and combined with our data curation expertise, has made Dryad a name that is both known and trusted in the research community. But a lot has changed in the data publishing space since 2008, and Dryad needs to change with it.

Who/what is CDL?

CDL LoroCDL was founded by the University of California in 1997 to take advantage of emerging technologies that were transforming the way digital information was being published and accessed. Since then, in collaboration with the UC libraries and other partners, they have assembled one of the world’s leading digital research libraries and changed the ways that faculty, students, and researchers discover and access information.

CDL has long-standing interest and experience in research data management (RDM) and data publishing. CDL’s digital curation program, the University of California Curation Center (UC3), provides digital preservation, data curation, and data publishing services, and has a history of coordinating collaborative projects regionally, nationally, and internationally. It is baked into CDL’s strategic vision to build partnerships to better promote and make an impact in the library, open research, and data management spaces (e.g., DMPTool, HathiTrust).

Why a partnership?

CDL and Dryad have a shared mission of increasing the adoption and availability of open data. By joining forces, we can have a much bigger impact. This partnership is focused on combining CDL’s institutional relationships, expertise, and nimble technology with Dryad’s position in the researcher community, curation workflows, and publisher relationships. By working together, we plan to create global efficiencies and minimize needless duplication of effort across institutions, freeing up time and funds, and, in particular, allowing institutions with fewer resources to support research data publishing and ensure data remain open.

Our joint Dryad-CDL initiative will increase adoption of open data by meeting researchers where they already are. We will leverage the strengths of both organizations to offer new products and services and to build broad, sustainable, and productive approaches to data curation. We plan to move quickly to provide new value:

  • For researchers: We will launch a new, modern and easier-to-use platform. This will provide a higher level of service, and even more seamless integration into regular workflows than Dryad currently offers
  • For journals and publishers: We will offer new integration paths that will allow direct communication with manuscript processing systems, better reporting, and more comprehensive curation services
  • For academic institutions: We will work directly with institutions to craft right-sized offerings to meet your needs

We have many details to hammer out and a lot of work to do, but among our first steps will be to reach out to you — each of the groups above — to discuss your needs, wants, and preferred methods of supporting this effort. With your help, the partnership will help us grow Dryad as a globally-accessible, community-led, non-commercial, low-cost service that focus on breaking down silos between publishing, libraries, and research.

As this partnership is taking shape, we ask for community input on how our collective efforts can best meet the needs of researchers, publishers, and institutions. Please stay tuned for further announcements and information over the coming months. We hope you share our excitement as we step into Dryad’s next chapter.

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Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant will fund implementation of shared staffing model across 7 academic libraries and Dryad

We’re thrilled to announce that Dryad will participate in a three-year, multi-institutional effort to launch the Data Curation Network. The implementation — led by the University of Minnesota Libraries and backed by a $526,438 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation — builds on previous work to better support researchers faced with a growing number of requirements to openly and ethically share their research data.

The result of many months of research and planning, the project brings together eight partners:

Currently, staff at each of these institutions provide their own data curation services. But because data curation requires a specialized skill set — spanning a wide variety of data types and discipline-specific data formats — institutions cannot reasonably expect to hire an expert in each area.

Curation workflow for the DCN

The intent of the Data Curation Network is to serve as a cross-institutional staffing model that seamlessly connects a network of expert data curators to local datasets and to supplement local curation expertise. The project aims to increase local capacity, strengthen cross-institutional collaboration, and ensure that researchers and institutions ethically and appropriately share data.

Lisa R. Johnston, Principal Investigator for the DCN and Director of the Data Repository for the University of Minnesota (DRUM), explains:

Functionally, the Data Curation Network will serve as the ‘human layer’ in a local data repository stack that provides expert services, incentives for collaboration, normalized curation practices, and professional development training for an emerging data curator community.

For our part, the Dryad curation team is excited to join a collegial network of professionals, to help develop shared procedures and understandings, and to learn from the partners’ experience and expertise (as they may learn from ours).

As an independent, non-profit repository, we are especially pleased to get to work more closely with the academic library community, and hope this project can provide a launchpad for future, international collaborations among organizations with similar missions but differing structures and funding models.

Watch this space for news as the project develops, and follow the DCN on Twitter: #DataCurationNetwork

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Dryad is a general purpose repository for data underlying scholarly publications. Each new submission we receive is reviewed by our curation team before the data are archived. Our main priority is to ensure compliance with Dryad’s Terms of Service, but we also strongly believe that curation activities add value to your data publication, since curated data are more likely to be FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable).

FAIR

Before we register a DOI, a member of our curation team will check each data package to ensure that the data files can be opened, that they appear to contain information associated with a scientific publication, and that metadata for the associated publication are technically correct. We prefer common, non-proprietary file types and thorough documentation, and we may reach out if we are unable to view files as provided.

Our curators are also on the lookout for sensitive information such as personally identifiable human subjects data or protected location information, and for files that contain copyright and license statements that are incompatible with our required CC0 waiver.

To make the data archiving process more straightforward for authors, our curation team has authored sets of guidelines that may be consulted when preparing a data submission for a public repository such as Dryad. We hope these guidelines will help you as you prepare your Dryad data package, and that they will lessen the amount of time from point of submission to registered data DOI!

A series of blog posts will highlight each of the guidelines we’ve created. First up is our best practices for sharing human subjects data in an open access repository, from former Dryad curator Rebecca Kameny.

— Erin Clary, Senior Curator – curator@datadryad.org

_______________

Preparing human subject data for open access

Collecting, cleaning, managing, and analyzing your data is one thing, but what happens when you are ready to share your data with other researchers and the public?

peopleBecause our researchers come from fields that run the gamut of academia — from biology, ecology, and medicine, to engineering, agriculture, and sociology — and because almost any field can make use of data from human subjects, we’ve provided guidance for preparing such data for open access. We based our recommendations and requirements on well-respected national and international sources from government institutions, universities, and peer-reviewed publications.

Dryad curators will review data files for compliance with these recommendations, and may make suggestions to authors, however, authors who submit data to Dryad are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their data are properly anonymized and can be shared in a public repository.

handle-43946_960_720In a nutshell, Dryad does not allow any direct identifiers, but we do allow up to three indirect identifiers. Sound simple? It’s not. If the study involves a vulnerable population (such as children or indigenous people), if the number of participants is small, or if the data are sensitive (e.g., HIV status, drug use), three indirect identifiers may be too many. We evaluate each submission on a case-by-case basis.

If you have qualitative data, you’ll want to pay close attention to open-ended text, and may need to replace names with pseudonyms or redact identifiable text.

Quick tips for preparing human subjects data for sharing

  • Ensure that there are no direct identifiers.
  • Remove any nonessential identifying details.
  • Reduce the precision of a variable – e.g., remove day and month from date of birth; use county instead of city; add or subtract a randomly chosen number.
  • Aggregate variables that are potentially revealing, such as age.
  • Restrict the upper or lower ranges of a continuous variable to hide outliers by collapsing them into a single code.
  • Combine variables by merging data from two variables into a summary variable.

It’s also good research practice to provide clear documentation of your data in a README file. Your README should define your variables and allowable values, and can be used to alert users to any changes you made to the original dataset to protect participant identity.

Our guidelines expand upon the tips above, and link to some useful references that will provide further guidance to anyone who would like to share human subjects data safely.

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As the new year begins, we take note of the increasing diversity of fields represented in data archived at Dryad and review the numbers for 2016.

Dryad Grows into a General Repository

We are excited to see Dryad’s role in the preservation of data expand into new areas and fields in 2016. Researchers submitted more data involving human subjects and data from social media. In addition, a quick look at our most popular data shows that two of the top five downloaded packages were from the fields of cardiology and science journalism. While Dryad’s origins are in the life sciences, it is increasingly being used as a general repository for data from a myriad of fields.

Let’s take a look at the numbers for 2016:

Increase in Number of Data Packages and Data Files

Our curators were busy! The total number of published data packages (sets of data files associated with a publication) at the end of the year was a whopping 15,325. Our curators meticulously archived 4,307 packages, a 10% increase from 2015. The size of data packages also continued to grow – from an average of 481MB to an average of 573MB, an increase of about 20%.summary of Dryad data packages 2016

At the end of 2016, we were closing in on 50,000 archived data files; by January of this year, we passed that mark.

In a future blog, we’ll talk about the integration of new journals into the Dryad submission process, new members, and new partnerships. For now, we’ll just note that there was a 22% increase in the number of journals that have data in Dryad linking back to the article.

New Fields

We’ve seen a significant uptick in human subjects data and social media data this year, which has prompted us to develop an FAQ on cleaning and de-identification of human subjects data for public access. As the idea of what data should be preserved continues to broaden, submissions of these kinds of data will only increase. We’ll keep you updated about this trend in future blogs.

Top Downloads

Let’s take a look at the most popular data published in 2016, in terms of downloads. Among the top 5 downloads includes data on plant genetics, the early history of ray-finned fishes, and, not surprisingly in this age, the effects of climate change on boreal forests.

Also of interest are data from an article in Science evaluating how people make use of Sci-Hub, an open source scholarly library. Our guest blog on these data by science journalist John Bohannon generated a lot of interest this year and was one of our most popular blog posts ever.

Another significant development in 2016 came from the medical sciences. A comparison of coronary diagnostic techniques marked Dryad’s first submission from one of the top five cardiology journals, JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions.

The fact that 2 of the 5 top downloads come from fields outside of life sciences clearly indicates that data in Dryad now cover a broad range of fields.

Top 5 Downloads of Data Archived in 2016

Article Dryad DOI Number of Downloads
Wagner MR et al. (2016) Host genotype and age shape the leaf and root microbiomes of a wild perennial plant. Nature Communications 7: 12151. http://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g60r3 3123
Bohannon J et al. (2016) Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone.  Science 352(6285): 508-512. http://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q447c 2969
D’Orangeville L et al. (2016) Northeastern North America as a potential refugium for boreal forests in a warming climate. Science 352(6292): 1452-1455. http://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.785cv 741
Johnson NP et al. (2016) Continuum of vasodilator stress from rest to contrast medium to adenosine hyperemia for fractional flow reserve assessment. JACC. Cardiovascular Interventions 9(8): 757-767. http://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f76nv 453
Lu J et al. (2016) The oldest actinopterygian highlights the cryptic early history of the hyperdiverse ray-finned fishes. Current Biology 26(12): 1602–1608. http://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t6j72 423

Overall, we’ve had a great year and are delighted to be seeing a broader range of data from an increasing number of journals and fields. Thanks to our Board of Directors, members, and of course our staff for providing their support to make 2016 a notable year for Dryad!

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