The past couple of weeks have led to an extraordinary outpouring of discussions on open data and its place in scientific publishing. We are grateful to everyone who took the trouble to tweet, blog or email about this and are heartened that so many people care as passionately as we do about open science. However, much of the discussion has centered on a misunderstanding in a previous blog post and we want to correct that now.
We apologize for causing confusion
In the previous post, and also on our site for PLOS ONE Academic Editors, an attempt to simplify our policy did not represent the policy correctly and we sincerely apologize for that and for the confusion it has caused. We are today correcting that post and hoping it provides the clarity many have been seeking. If it doesn’t we’d ask you once again to let us know – here on the blog, by email at email@example.com, and via all the usual channels.
Two key things to summarize about the policy are:
- The policy does not aim to say anything new about what data types, forms and amounts should be shared.
- The policy does aim to make transparent where the data can be found, and says that it shouldn’t be just on the authors’ own hard drive.
We have struck out the paragraph in the original PLOS ONE blog post headed “What do we mean by data”, as we think it led to much of the confusion. Instead we offer this guidance to authors planning to submit to a PLOS journal.
What data do I need to make available?
We ask you to make available the data underlying the findings in the paper, which would be needed by someone wishing to understand, validate or replicate the work. Our policy has not changed in this regard. What has changed is that we now ask you to say where the data can be found.
As the PLOS data policy applies to all fields in which we publish, we recognize that we’ll need to work closely with authors in some subject areas to ensure adherence to the new policy. Some fields have very well established standards and practices around data, while others are still evolving, and we would like to work with any field that is developing data standards. We are aiming to ensure transparency about data availability.
We are happy to answer questions about specific fields in detail. A generalized example of the type of question we have received recently, and our answer, is as follows.
Question sent to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Where to go for more information
Data sharing policy: http://www.plosone.org/static/policies#sharing
Image Credit: jonathangray.com