An important editorial has just appeared online in the February issue of The American Naturalist.
To promote the preservation and fuller use of data, The American Naturalist, Evolution, the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Ecology, Heredity, and other key journals in evolution and ecology will soon introduce a new data archiving policy. The policy has been enacted by the Executive Councils of the societies owning or sponsoring the journals. For example, the policy of The American Naturalist will state:
This journal requires, as a condition for publication, that data supporting the results in the paper should be archived in an appropriate public archive, such as GenBank, TreeBASE, Dryad, or the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity. Data are important products of the scientific enterprise, and they should be preserved and usable for decades in the future. Authors may elect to have the data publicly available at time of publication, or, if the technology of the archive allows, may opt to embargo access to the data for a period up to a year after publication. Exceptions may be granted at the discretion of the editor, especially for sensitive information such as human subject data or the location of endangered species.
This policy will be introduced approximately a year from now, after a period when authors are encouraged to voluntarily place their data in a public archive. Data that have an established standard repository, such as DNA sequences, should continue to be archived in the appropriate repository, such as GenBank. For more idiosyncratic data, the data can be placed in a more flexible digital data library such as the National Science Foundation–sponsored Dryad Archive.
Authors of the editorial, Michael C. Whitlock, Mark A. McPeek, Mark D. Rausher, Loren Rieseberg, and Allen J. Moore present the case for the importance of data archiving in science. This is the first of several coordinated editorials soon to appear in major journals.
The Association of American Universities and the American Institute of Physics have issued the following press release:
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 12, 2010 — An expert panel of librarians, library scientists, publishers, and university academic leaders today called on federal agencies that fund research to develop and implement policies that ensure free public access to the results of the research they fund “as soon as possible after those results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.”
The Scholarly Publishing Roundtable was convened last summer by the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology, in collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Policymakers asked the group to examine the current state of scholarly publishing and seek consensus recommendations for expanding public access to scholarly journal articles.
The various communities represented in the Roundtable have been working to develop recommendations that would improve public access without curtailing the ability of the scientific publishing industry to publish peer-reviewed scientific articles.
The Roundtable’s recommendations, endorsed in full by the overwhelming majority of the panel (12 out of 14 members), “seek to balance the need for and potential of increased access to scholarly articles with the need to preserve the essential functions of the scholarly publishing enterprise,” according to the report.
“I want to commend the members of the Roundtable for reaching broad agreement on some very difficult issues,” said John Vaughn, executive vice president of the Association of American Universities, who chaired the group. “Our system of scientific publishing is an indispensible part of the scientific enterprise here and internationally. These recommendations ensure that we can maintain that system as it evolves and also ensure full and free public access to the results of research paid for by the American taxpayer.”
The Roundtable identified a set of principles viewed as essential to a robust scholarly publishing system, including the need to preserve peer review, the necessity of adaptable publishing business models, the benefits of broader public access, the importance of archiving, and the interoperability of online content.
In addition, the group affirmed the high value of the “version of record” for published articles and of all stakeholders’ contributions to sustaining the best possible system of scholarly publishing during a time of tremendous change and innovation.
To implement its core recommendation for public access, the Roundtable recommended the following:
The report, as well as a list of Roundtable members, member biographies, and the House Science and Technology Committee’s charge to the group, can be found here.