Understanding and addressing the challenges of climate change requires information from many scales. Research publications tell some of the story but the ability of others to find and use data may advance progress and allow greater insight to be gained.
Different research fields have different practices and approaches to sharing data. Overall there is a movement towards making data more available and useful, with specific requirements from some funders, publishers and institutions. For example, the Coalition on Publishing Data in the Earth and Space Sciences outlines a statement of commitment (http://www.copdess.org/). However, this is not yet the norm in many fields.
At Nature Climate Change and the Nature journals, our policy has always been that data must be made available by the authors on request. The full policy of the Nature journals can be found online1. Our policy now requires a statement to be included in the Methods section of accepted papers on the availability of the minimum data needed to understand, replicate and build on the publication. The inclusion of a statement regarding where this data can be found and accessed makes the process more transparent.
This policy is about stating the availability of data, but we are also encouraging authors to deposit their data in an appropriate repository. Our sister journal, Scientific Data — a data-descriptor journal — has a list of recommended repositories2. For authors whose data are in a repository and have been assigned a DOI, they are encouraged to cite the data set in the reference list. This in turn allows those who generated the data to get credit for their work.
What do these statements look like? They will vary depending on whether the data has been placed in a repository, is sourced from previous publications, or is held by the authors. Example statements can be found online3 along with guidance on how to write a statement.
This policy comes off the back of a trial at five Nature Research journals started in March this year. The journals span a wide range of disciplines. This has highlighted the different approaches to data sharing, and the variety in availability and use of public repositories across subjects. Since September, the policy has been gradually implemented across the whole portfolio of Nature journals. This is in line with a wider initiative at Springer Nature, with the introduction of a standardized set of data research policies4, 5. The aim is to make our research data policy clearer to authors and readers, whilst making it straightforward for journals to adopt the policy that best suits their community.
We will be monitoring and working closely with our authors to ensure this new policy implementation runs smoothly. Our aim is to understand the needs of the diverse communities we serve and ensure we publish clear statements which benefit our readers, enhance our publications and help address the challenges ahead.
- Availability of Data, Material and Methods (Springer Nature, 2016); http://go.nature.com/2eG4GcL
- Recommended Data Repositories (Scientific Data, 2016); http://go.nature.com/2eLHBFP
- Data Availability Statements and Data Citations Policy: Guidance for Authors (Nature Research, 2016); http://go.nature.com/2bf4vqn
- Promoting Research Data Sharing at Springer Nature (Springer Nature, 2016); http://go.nature.com/2by6l6x
- Research Data Policy (Springer Nature, 2016); http://go.nature.com/2fmlHXV