Scientific Data

Scientific Data

From the homepage:

Scientific Data is a new open-access, online-only publication for descriptions of scientifically valuable datasets. It introduces a new type of content called the Data Descriptor designed to make your data more discoverable, interpretable and reusable. Scientific Data is currently calling for submissions, and will launch in May 2014.

The Data Descriptors are described in more detail in Metadata associated with Data Descriptor articles to be released under CC0 waiver with this overview:

Box 1. Overview of information in Data Descriptor metadata

Metadata files will be released in the ISA-Tab format, and potentially in other formats in the future, such as Linked Data. An example metadata file is available here, associated with one of our sample Data Descriptors. The information in these files is designed to be a machine-readable supplement to the main Data Descriptor article.

  • Article citation information: Manuscript title, Author list, DOI, publication date, etc
  • Subject terms: according to NPG’s own subject categorization system
  • Annotation of the experimental design and main technologies used: Annotation terms will be derived from community-based ontologies wherever possible. Fields are derived from the ISA framework and include: Design Type, Measurement Type, Factors, Technology Type, and Technology Platform.
  • Information about external data records: Names of the data repositories, data record accession or DOIs, and links to the externally-stored data records
  • Structured tables that provide a detailed accounting of the experimental samples and data-producing assays, including characteristics of samples or subjects of the study, such as species name and tissue type, described using standard terminologies.

For more information on the value of this structured content and how it relates to the narrative article-like content see this earlier blog post by our Honorary Academic Editor, Susanna-Assunta Sansone.

Nature is taking the lead in this effort, which should bring a sense of security to generations of researchers. Security in knowing Nature takes the rights of authors seriously but also knowing the results will be professional grade.

I am slightly concerned that there is no obvious mechanism for maintenance of “annotation terms” from community-based ontologies or other terms, as terminology changes over time. Change in the vocabulary of for any discipline is too familiar to require citation. As those terms change, so will access to valuable historical resources.

Looking at the Advisory Panel, it is heavily weighted in favor of medical and biological sciences. Is there an existing publication that performs a similar function for data sets from physics, astronomy, botany, etc.?

I first saw this in a tweet by ChemConnector.

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