Thursday, January 28, 2010

Suite of ecology journals moving to open access research data policy

In the recent editorial (Am Nat 2010. Vol. 175, pp. 145–146) of The American Naturalist, it was announced that the journals "The American Naturalist, Evolution, the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Ecology, Heredity, and other key journals in evolution and ecology..." would be introducing data archiving policies supporting access, re-use and long term preservation. These policies are to be put in place in one year, and the example policy for the The American Naturalist is given:

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.
They go on to explain the rationale and workings of the policy:
The data‐archiving policy is designed to address several concerns that some researchers may have about data sharing. To protect the ability of individual researchers to use the data that they have collected, the policy allows an embargo period after publication. While the data will be entered into an archive at the time of publication, the data may be restricted from public view for up to a year. This allows the original researcher time to publish other papers based on the data set. The policy also allows longer embargo periods at the discretion of the editor in exceptional cases. In addition, the requirement is only for data that have already been used in the publication in question; other data from the same research project that have not yet been described in a publication need not be archived. Finally, data that are particularly sensitive, such as location information for endangered species subject to poaching, should not be archived in a publicly accessible format. Human subject data should be anonymized (see the recommendations of the National Human Subjects Protection Advisory Committee 2002).

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