Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scholarly Journals Introduce New Data Archiving Policy

Scholarly Journals Introduce New Data Archiving Policy

An important editorial about data archiving has just appeared online in the February issue of The American Naturalist.

To promote the preservation and fuller use of data, The American Naturalist, Evolution, the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Ecology, Heredity, and other key journals in evolution and ecology will soon introduce a new data archiving policy to ensure that data supporting published articles is preserved and made publicly available. The policy has been enacted by the Executive Councils of the societies owning or sponsoring the journals.

For example, the policy of The American Naturalist will state:

This journal requires, as a condition for publication, that data supporting the results in the paper should be archived in an appropriate public archive, such as GenBank, TreeBASE, Dryad, or the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity. Data are important products of the scientific enterprise, and they should be preserved and usable for decades in the future. Authors may elect to have the data publicly available at time of publication, or, if the technology of the archive allows, may opt to embargo access to the data for a period up to a year after publication. Exceptions may be granted at the discretion of the editor, especially for sensitive information such as human subject data or the location of endangered species.

This policy will be introduced approximately a year from now, after a period when authors are encouraged to voluntarily place their data in a public archive. Data that have an established standard repository, such as DNA sequences, should continue to be archived in the appropriate repository, such as GenBank. Data can also be archived in a more flexible, interdisciplinary digital data archive such as the National Science Foundation–sponsored Dryad repository, at http://datadryad.org/.

Dryad is developed by the US National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and the University of North Carolina Metadata Research Center, in collaboration with with a consortium of partner journals.

Authors of the editorial, Michael C. Whitlock, Mark A. McPeek, Mark D. Rausher, Loren Rieseberg, and Allen J. Moore present the case for the importance of data archiving in science. This is the first of several coordinated editorials soon to appear in major journals.

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