The journal ecosystem is a powerful filter of scientific literature, promoting the best work into the best journals. Why not use a similar mechanism to encourage more comprehensive data sharing?
Several journals have introduced policies mandating that data be shared on a public archive at publication (see, for example, go.nature.com/b7u4ed). However, these policies have met with limited success, perhaps because of authors' fears of losing control, being scooped in subsequent papers or having errors exposed. Moreover, compliance with data-sharing policies is typically checked only after the paper has been accepted.
To spur excellence in data sharing, journals must recognize that better sharing leads to stronger papers, and judge submissions accordingly. Articles associated with feeble sharing efforts should either improve or be rejected.
A focus on publishing verifiable research will boost journal reputation. It also signals to the community of authors that withholding data will restrict them to publication in less-prestigious journals.