Frequently Asked Questions
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About Scientific Data
- What is Scientific Data, and why has it been launched?
- What fields does Scientific Data cover?
- Is Scientific Data peer-reviewed?
- Is Scientific Data citable?
- Where is Scientific Data indexed?
- Does Scientific Data have an impact factor?
- What is the abbreviation for Scientific Data?
- Is Scientific Data open-access?
- What does the article-processing charge cover?
- What Creative Commons licences does Scientific Data offer, and why were they selected?
- Does Scientific Data offer APC waivers?
The Data Descriptor
- What is a Data Descriptor?
- What editorial process do Data Descriptors undergo?
- Data Descriptors are “curated”. What does that mean, and what is the curation process?
- What is the purpose of the table below the abstract in each Data Descriptor?
- Is Scientific Data a place to publish research articles that have been rejected elsewhere because they were deemed too preliminary or inconclusive?
- What are the criteria for publishing in Scientific Data?
- If I publish a Data Descriptor describing a dataset and a research article based on analysis of that dataset, does that count as dual publication?
- Can I publish a Data Descriptor if there is no peer-reviewed article associated with it?
- Does Scientific Data just consider "big data" or "high impact" studies?
Datasets and our data-archiving policies
- Does Scientific Data host research datasets?
- How does Scientific Data complement existing repositories?
- What are Scientific Data’s data-repository selection criteria?
- Can I publish a Data Descriptor if there is no recognized community repository for the data I have produced?
- Must I make my research data publicly available?
About Scientific Data
1. What is Scientific Data, and why has it been launched?
Scientific Data is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal for descriptions of scientifically valuable datasets, and research that advances the sharing and reuse of scientific data. It was launched by Nature Research to enable the discoverability, reproducibility and reuse of valuable data. Scientific Data primarily publishes Data Descriptors, a new type of publication that combines the narrative content characteristic of traditional journal articles with structured, curated metadata that outline experimental workflows and point to publicly archived data records.
2. What fields does Scientific Data cover?
Scientific Data is open to submissions from a broad range of natural science disciplines, including descriptions of big and small data, from major consortiums and single labs. We are currently focused on datasets from the life, biomedical and environmental science communities; scientists with datasets from outside these fields are encouraged to contact us with presubmission enquiries. We are also willing to consider descriptions of quantitative datasets from the social sciences, particularly those that may be of use for integrative analyses that stretch across the traditional boundaries between the natural and social sciences.
Scientific Data considers manuscripts describing experimental and observational datasets, as well as computational or curated data. In all cases authors must convincingly demonstrate the quality of the resulting data and support their wider value to the community.
3. Is Scientific Data peer-reviewed?
Scientific Data has an editorial board of experimental and computational scientists, as well as data-standards experts, recruited from research institutions worldwide. Our editorial board members coordinate the review process for all manuscripts, and identify referees to evaluate the technical quality of the procedures used to generate the data, the reuse value of the resulting datasets, the completeness of the data description, and alignment with existing community standards.
4. Is Scientific Data citable?
Data Descriptors in Scientific Data are citable, and are issued with DOIs with the format 10.1038/sdata.YYYY.manuscriptNumber.
5. Where is Scientific Data indexed?
Scientific Data’s content is indexed by PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE, Google Scholar and Clarivate's Web of Science, and available through PubMed Central (PMC). Scientific Data is also listed by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Articles published in Scientific Data are preserved in line with Nature Research's digital preservation policies and procedures. This includes archiving of Scientific Data in CLOCKSS and Portico.
6. Does Scientific Data have an impact factor?
The 2016 journal metrics for Scientific Data are:
- 2-year impact factor: 4.836
- 5-year impact factor: 4.852
- Immediacy index: 1.051
- Eigenfactor® score: 0.00469
- Article influence score: 2.670
Further metrics are available on the Nature Research journal metrics page.
7. What is the abbreviation for Scientific Data?
The correct abbreviation for abstracting and indexing purposes is “Sci. Data”.
8. Is Scientific Data open-access?
Scientific Data is open access: to publish with us, all authors are required to pay an article-processing charge (APC). See our open access page for further information about APCs, licences, and our free open access funding support service.
9. What does the article-processing charge cover?
As costs are involved in every stage of the publication process, from peer-review to curation and the hosting of the finalized articles on dedicated servers, authors will be asked to pay an article-processing charge (APC) in lieu of the subscription fees charged by many journals. This fee enables authors to post the final, published PDF of their Data Descriptor on a website, or within an institutional repository or other free public server, immediately upon publication.
10. What Creative Commons licences does Scientific Data offer, and why were they selected?
Data Descriptors are published, by default, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). The CC BY licence allows for maximum dissemination and re-use of open access materials and is preferred by many research funding bodies. Under this licence users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit) and remix (adapt) the contribution, including for commercial purposes, providing they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor. Metadata in the Data Descriptors will be made available under the CC0 waiver to promote maximum reuse. Learn more about Nature Research’s licence policy and about Creative Commons licences.
11. Does Scientific Data offer APC waivers?
Scientific Data offers APC waivers for papers whose corresponding authors are based in the world's lowest income countries as defined by the World Bank. Discretionary APC waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and may be granted in cases of financial need. Learn more about our fee waiver policy.
The Data Descriptor
1. What is a Data Descriptor?
Data Descriptors are the primary type of article published by Scientific Data, and are a new category of publication designed to provide detailed descriptions of experimental, observational, computational or curated data. They integrate a narrative component with structured, curated information to maximize interpretation, search and reuse of the underlying primary datasets, presenting information on the genesis of the datasets and the experimental steps used to derive them, and linking to the resulting data files. Data Descriptors should not contain tests of new scientific hypotheses, extensive analyses aimed at providing new scientific insights, or descriptions of fundamentally new scientific methods.
2. What editorial process do Data Descriptors undergo?
The Managing Editor, Honorary Academic Editor and Editorial Board decide, in consultation, which submissions will be sent out for detailed peer-review. Review is undertaken if submissions are deemed within Scientific Data’s scope and the accompanying datasets have sufficient reuse value. The peer-review of each submission will be overseen by an Editorial Board member.
Referees will evaluate the technical quality of the procedures used to generate the data, the reuse value of the resulting datasets and their alignment with existing community standards, and the completeness of the data description. Most Data Descriptors will be reviewed by at least one scientist with expertise in the relevant experimental techniques, as well as one data-standards expert.
Please note that manuscript acceptance by Scientific Data is not based on the perceived impact or novelty of the findings associated with the datasets, and indeed Data Descriptors will not be expected to contain in-depth analyses or new scientific conclusions. Authors will, however, be expected to support the rigour and technical quality of the experiments or procedures used to generate the data, and will be asked to provide evidence of quality-control experiments whenever necessary. Referees may ask for additional supporting experiments as necessary to support the data.
Please see our Guide to referees for more details.
3. Data Descriptors are “curated”. What does that mean, and what is the curation process?
Published Data Descriptor manuscripts are accompanied by a structured component comprising ISA-Tab metadata records (www.isa-tools.org) that describe the Investigation, Study and Assay(s) performed by the authors. These records are generated during the curation process, and are intended to facilitate data discoverability and reuse by using controlled vocabulary terms to indicate sample and subject provenance and outline the experimental workflow. They ensure internal consistency and completeness of dataset annotation and strive for alignment with community-developed minimum information requirements and terminologies (see list at FAIRSharing).
4. What is the purpose of the table below the abstract in each Data Descriptor?
Each Data Descriptor is published with a ‘structured summary’ table, which appears after the abstract. This table is generated from the machine readable metadata files, created during the curation process for each submission. Authors have the opportunity to view these tables prior to publication, during article proofing. The terms in these tables are drawn from community ontologies where possible, and are designed to aid data discovery. Our Data Curation Editor will work with authors to ensure the terms in the structured summary table are factually correct and consistent with terms assigned to similar datasets in other Data Descriptors.
Please note that if the structured summary table is very long, it may be truncated in the PDF version of a Data Descriptor. The table will however appear in full in the online article.
5. Is Scientific Data a place to publish research articles that have been rejected elsewhere because they were deemed too preliminary or inconclusive?
Scientific Data does not publish traditional results-based articles, and as its intention is to facilitate the reuse of valuable data, it cannot accept manuscripts describing preliminary or weakly supported results. Authors may wish to transfer works from other journals after rejection, particularly if they describe datasets with high reuse potential, but in most cases it will be necessary to revise articles before peer-review to fit our particular scope and format requirements. In addition, our editorial standards regarding data quality and reuse value may be more rigorous than other journals’.
6. What are the criteria to publish in Scientific Data?
Data Descriptor acceptance for publication will be based on the technical rigour of the procedures used to generate the data, the reuse value of the data, and the completeness of the data description. Dataset alignment with existing community standards will be achieved with the help of in-house curation, and full release of the research data is required upon publication of the Data Descriptor. For more details, please see our Guide for referees.
7. If I publish a Data Descriptor describing a dataset and a research article based on analysis of that dataset, does that count as dual publication?
Data Descriptors are designed to be complementary to traditional research articles, and may be used to describe datasets that are analysed in other publications.
Nature-titled journals will not consider prior Data Descriptor publications to compromise the novelty of new manuscript submissions as long as those manuscripts go substantially beyond a descriptive analysis of the data, and report important new scientific findings appropriate for the journal in question. This policy does not necessarily extend to subsequent journal articles with the primary purpose of describing a new dataset or resource. Other publishers may have different policies, and we encourage authors to consult the editor of their target journal to ensure that prior publication of a Data Descriptor is acceptable.
Please see our editorial policies for more information.
8. Can I publish a Data Descriptor if there is no peer-reviewed article associated with it?
Data Descriptors can be used to describe standalone datasets that are not associated with a traditional publication, and can also be used to describe portions of larger bodies of data (for example, data collected by a consortium).
9. Does Scientific Data just consider "big data" or "high impact" studies?
No, Scientific Data aims to be an inclusive journal that publishes a wide-range of technically-sound research datasets regardless of their size and complexity. We consider descriptions of datasets that have been generated from a single study or individual lab, big or small. We, equally, consider datasets linked to high-profile studies/articles and datasets that are large in their scope. See this blog for more information.
Datasets and our data-archiving policies
1. Does Scientific Data host research datasets?
Scientific Data does not host research data; however, we work with a range of community-recognized repositories designed for specific data-types, model organisms or phenotypes, as well as generalist repositories like figshare and the Dryad Digital Repository. Data records are linked to from within Data Descriptors to facilitate data access. Please see our data deposition policies and a related blog post for more information.
2. How does Scientific Data complement existing repositories?
Scientific Data is designed to complement existing data records in public repositories by providing standardized (metadata) descriptions of research data that reach across different technologies and data-types; our Data Descriptors also include information to help scientists better evaluate and reuse publicly archived datasets, including detailed Methods and Technical Validation sections and Usage Notes to facilitate downstream analyses. Data Descriptors can also provide publication credit to authors who share important datasets in a complete and reusable manner.
3. What are Scientific Data’s data-repository selection criteria?
Scientific Data currently recommends approximately 90 data repositories spanning the life, biomedical, environmental and social sciences. These repositories are by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage repository representatives, and the scientific community, to bring others to our attention.
Trusted data repositories generally should:
- Be broadly supported and recognized within their scientific community
- Ensure long-term persistence and preservation of datasets in their published form
- Provide expert curation
- Implement relevant, community-endorsed reporting requirements
- Provide for confidential review of submitted datasets
- Provide stable identifiers for submitted datasets
- Allow public access to data without unnecessary restrictions
Please note that sharing through an author’s own website does not meet these requirements. While authors are free to share their data through personal webpages or through repositories that do not meet the standards presented above, we ask that you supplement these records by archiving your data in a generalist repository prior to Data Descriptor submission.
4. Can I publish a Data Descriptor if there is no recognized community repository for the data I have produced?
If no community repository is available for data archiving, we recommend either figshare or the Dryad Digital Repository. These are both general-science repositories that host data files and meet our criteria for persistence and preservation. The APC covers 100 GB of storage in figshare (data should be uploaded through our integrated system, instructions here).
5. Must I make the research data publicly available?
Full release of the research data upon publication of the Data Descriptor is mandatory. Please note that datasets must also be made accessible to referees during the review process, although the data may remain under embargo during this period.
More information can be found on our For authors page.