Open data: policies need policing

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
538,
Page:
41
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/538041c
Published online

Like several other progressive publishers, you now require research papers to include a data-availability statement to ensure that the data are sufficient “to interpret, replicate and build on the findings reported in the paper” (Nature 537, 138; 2016). In my view, compliance should be enforced as a condition of publication.

Examples of laxity by publishers include allowing a data-availability statement indicating that “all relevant data are within the paper”, when in fact the article included only summary values, and a quantitative study on open data published — ironically — without archived data in a searchable, online repository (the data set was in the supplementary material, which is not always searchable in subscription journals).

Alarmingly, more than half of the archived data sets in journals that mandate open data are incomplete or deposited in a way that obstructs reuse (D. G. Roche et al. PLoS Biol. 13, e1002295; 2015). The responsibility for enforcing compliance with a data policy is in the hands of a journal's editors and reviewers. This needs to be stated explicitly and resourced adequately. I urge the Nature journals to ensure that the new measures are strong and effective.

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Affiliations

  1. University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

    • Dominique Roche

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