UK Parliament report supports Dryad and data access

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:

Dryad goes international

Science is international.  Science publishing is international.  And so it stands to reason that science data repositories should be international as well.

We are pleased to report that the Joint Information Science Committee (JISC) in the UK has made an award to the Dryad project through its Managing Research Data Program.  Through this program, JISC seeks to ” fund projects to explore and pilot innovative technical and organizational models for enhanced research data publications… to stimulate the better management, more open sharing and easier reuse of research data.”

The UK partners in the project include Oxford University and the British Library (BL), with participation from the Digital Curation Centre, Charles Beagrie Ltd, and a number of major scientific publishing houses. The director of the project, Dr. David Shotton at Oxford, heads the Image Bioinformatics Research Group (IBRG) at Oxford, and has been a leader in the application of Web and Semantic Web technologies to enhance biological research data and publications.

The project will result in a UK mirror of the Dryad repository based at the BL, improve the tools available for the publication and citation of data, expand the disciplinary range of participating journals (particularly into epidemiology and infectious diseases), and further develop the business framework for an international organization dedicated to long-term data preservation.

The proposal (PDF here) emerged out of a Dryad-UK discussion meeting cosponsored by the Research Information Network, and held in London in April 2010.