Data Access for the Open Access Literature: PLOS’s Data Policy

Data Access for the Open Access Literature: PLOS’s Data Policy by Theo Bloom.

From the post:

Data are any and all of the digital materials that are collected and analyzed in the pursuit of scientific advances. In line with Open Access to research articles themselves, PLOS strongly believes that to best foster scientific progress, the underlying data should be made freely available for researchers to use, wherever this is legal and ethical. Data availability allows replication, reanalysis, new analysis, interpretation, or inclusion into meta-analyses, and facilitates reproducibility of research, all providing a better ‘bang for the buck’ out of scientific research, much of which is funded from public or nonprofit sources. Ultimately, all of these considerations aside, our viewpoint is quite simple: ensuring access to the underlying data should be an intrinsic part of the scientific publishing process.

PLOS journals have requested data be available since their inception, but we believe that providing more specific instructions for authors regarding appropriate data deposition options, and providing more information in the published article as to how to access data, is important for readers and users of the research we publish. As a result, PLOS is now releasing a revised Data Policy that will come into effect on March 1, 2014, in which authors will be required to include a data availability statement in all research articles published by PLOS journals; the policy can be found below. This policy was developed after extensive consultation with PLOS in-house professional and external Academic Editors and Editors in Chief, who are practicing scientists from a variety of disciplines.

We now welcome input from the larger community of authors, researchers, patients, and others, and invite you to comment before March. We encourage you to contact us collectively at data@plos.org; feedback via Twitter and other sources will also be monitored. You may also contact individual PLOS journals directly.

That is a large step towards verifiable research and was taken by PLOS in December of 2013.

That has been supplemented with details that do not change the December announcement in: PLOS’ New Data Policy: Public Access to Data by Liz Silva, which reads in part:

A flurry of interest has arisen around the revised PLOS data policy that we announced in December and which will come into effect for research papers submitted next month. We are gratified to see a huge swell of support for the ideas behind the policy, but we note some concerns about how it will be implemented and how it will affect those preparing articles for publication in PLOS journals. We’d therefore like to clarify a few points that have arisen and once again encourage those with concerns to check the details of the policy or our FAQs, and to contact us with concerns if we have not covered them.

I think the bottom line is: Don’t Panic, Ask.

There are always going to be unanticipated details or concerns but as time goes by and customs develop for how to solve those issues, the questions will become fewer and fewer.

Over time and not that much time, our history of arrangements other than open access are going to puzzle present and future generations of researchers.

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