Wayne State University

Data@Wayne: Data sharing policy now in effect at PLOS journals

Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In 2014, all journals published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), including PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, and PLOS ONE, implemented a new data sharing policy. Authors must now make the data underlying their article publicly available without restriction immediately upon publication. The goal of this policy is to permit the validation and replication of results and to allow the re-use or re-purposing of data, thereby increasing the transparency of research and facilitating scientific progress.

PLOS strongly recommends the use of publicly accessible data repositories that assign a digital object identifier (DOI) or accession number to each dataset. Many types of research data can be deposited into subject-specific data repositories, such as GenBank for genetic sequences or Protein Data Bank (PDB) for molecular structural data. If your data are not a good fit for existing subject-specific repositories, general-purpose repositories such as Dryad or Figshare are also good options. Alternatively, datasets can be provided to the journal as supporting information files, and very small datasets can be provided in the body of the article, such as in a table. Exceptions to this policy may be granted when ethical or legal reasons prevent data from being publicly shared or when data were obtained from a third party.

This data sharing policy builds upon the growing sentiment that research data should be made open and accessible to others rather than being tucked away on a hard drive and forgotten. Although organizing and preparing your datasets for sharing takes time and effort, data sharing can benefit your reputation and research impact. That is, data sharing can serve as a marker of the quality and strength of your research results and is associated with an increased citation rate. With this new policy, PLOS journals join the ranks of other leading scientific journals that require data sharing, including Science and Nature.

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Research Data Services of the WSU Library System can help you prepare your datasets for public release and identify appropriate data repositories. Contact us at rds@wayne.edu.