PLOS Data Policy Update Part 2

In the latest issue of College & Research Libraries News (vol. 75 no. 6 305-308), Emma Ganley, an acting deputy editor of PLOS Biology, provides a summary of the implementation of the PLOS data policy and researchers’ different responses. As many of you know, reception of the PLOS Data Policy by the scientific community was initially polarized. You may find this short article informative to learn more about the PLOS Data Policy which is hoped to serve as a catalyst for change and invigorate the development of new resources and infrastructure for research and access.

PLOS Data Policy Update

It has been a few months since the PLOS journals’ data policy was implemented. For the re-use and re-purpose of data by readers and by data miners, authors of new manuscripts were required to submit a statement about where the data underlying their description of research can be found. As of today,16,000 sets of authors have included information about data availability with their article submission. Should this number be considered as good news for open science, and more specifically, is this a step towards improved integration between the published literature and the data underlying it? You can learn more about the recent update from the PLOS’ data policy and current state of data sharing by authors from here.

New Open Data Policy at PLOS

PLOS (The Public Library of Science) is implementing a new data access policy that will affect researchers seeking to publish with the widely regarded publisher of open access journals for science and medicine. Beginning March 3rd, 2014, a Data Availability Statement will be required with all prospective articles submitted to any PLOS journal. You can check the details of the PLOS’ new open data policy or their FAQs.

This new data policy announcement invited both positive and negative responses. Many have already addressed issues in their blog posts, including the posts written by Ian Dworkin and Anna Sharman who summed up the potential problem:

So what is the big problem? The main objections raised seem to me to fall into six categories:

  1. Some datasets would take too much work to get into a format that others could understand
  2. It isn’t always clear what kind of data should be published with a paper
  3. Some data files are too large to be easily hosted
  4. The concern that others might publish reanalyses that the originators of the data were intending to publish, so they would lose the credit from that further research
  5. Some datasets contain confidential information
  6. Some datasets are proprietary

Data Access for the OA Literature: PLOS’s Data Policy

PLOS’s Data Policy coming into effect soon, March 2014

PLOS journals have requested data be available since their inception, but PLOS believes that providing more specific instructions for authors regarding appropriate data deposition options, and providing more information in the published article as to how to access data, is important for readers and users of the research it publishes. As a result, PLOS is now releasing a revised Data Policy that will come into effect on March 1, 2014, in which authors will be required to include a data availability statement in all research articles published by PLOS journals.

PLOS is still accepting input from the larger community of authors, researchers, patients, and others. You can find a revised Data Policy here. For public comments, you can contact individual PLOS journals or may directly contact at


Principle Guidelines for Data at Risk

Building Support for ‘Principle Guidelines’ for Data at Risk by CODATA

In her recent blog post, Elizabeth Griffin, co-chair of the CODATA Data at Risk Task Group, talks about goals and progress of the CODATA Data at Risk Task Group. “Data at risk” is defined as scientific data which are not in a format that permits full electronic access to the information which they contain. Such data may be inherently non-digital (e.g. handwritten or photographic), on near-obsolete digital media (such as magnetic tapes) or insufficiently described (lacking meta-data). Some born-digital data can also be considered “at risk” if they cannot be ingested into managed databases because they lack adequate formatting or metadata. The goal of this project is to create an inventory of data that are at risk, and whose unique scientific information is in danger of being lost to posterity. In her post, she says: 

The overall objective is to facilitate the conversion of the scientific content of those historic data to electronic formats for inclusion in modern research, where their special contributions can be utilised to the full; the matter is especially critical when long-term changes need to be measured accurately. An important step towards those goals is to raise both public and specific scientific awareness of the seriousness of neglecting historic data, and to illustrate the benefits through examples of successful data recovery.

Continue reading Elizabeth’s blog post…

Report: Data Access Policies Landscape

Data Access Policies Landscape, report written by Dr. Stephanie Wykstra

For anyone working with data and data policies, this is an excellent report prepared by Dr. Stephanie Wykstra.

New technology makes sharing research outputs– not just publications but also raw data, code, software, even lab notebooks – easier than ever before. The benefits from more open science are widely acknowledged. Yet there is still room for improvement: recent studies show that at least in some fields, sharing isn’t yet widespread. There are also a number of questions that remain: what should be shared, how and who should cover the costs? Even where it’s clear that research transparency should become the norm, answering these questions across diverse domains is challenging and will require much work and cooperation.

This landscape has several aims. First, to help inform funders. Funders play an important role in the shift to data-sharing and research transparency more broadly, and we hope that informing them about the policy landscape and available options may be useful. Here we present a range of funder policies, including their basic components, variation among them, and some considerations in favor of the different options. Second, we pull together resources for funders (and researchers that they fund and advise) as they face questions about data access. Third, we briefly survey some initiatives in the “research transparency” field more broadly, with the aim of facilitating collaboration.

To continue reading this report, you can download a full report from Figshare

What Is Copyright and Who Owns It? | UK Data Service

Blog Post by UK Data Service: What Is Copyright and Who Owns It? 

Have you ever wondered if your Excel spreadsheets can be copyrighted? In the most recent blog post, UK Data Service talks about what we should know about copyright and data ownership.

Copyright is an intellectual property right, assigned automatically to the creator, that prevents unauthorised copying and publishing of an original work. Copyright applies to research data and plays a role when creating, sharing and reusing data. The categorisation of copyright as a ‘property’ demonstrates that copyright is something which belongs to someone, cannot be taken away without consent and cannot be abused without the possibility of legal action. Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 copyright applies to:

  • original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
  • sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes
  • the typographical arrangement of publications

Most research outputs such as spreadsheets, publications, reports and computer programs fall under literary work and are therefore protected by copyright. Facts, however, cannot be copyrighted.

Continue reading….