Update: This initiative has been featured on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog.
In December 2014, the Office for Science & Technology Policy at the White House announced the release of the Materials Genome Initiative’s Strategic Plan. One of the four key “areas of opportunity” is to make digital data accessible. This is expected to enable acceleration of materials research via the development of advanced methodologies enabling a better integration of experimental and computational data.
The document highlights, in our views some of the key challenges for the Materials Science community. In addition to launching a new journal, Materials Discovery, the Materials Today team, alongside colleagues from the Engineering and Energy teams, decided to initiate a broad move: together we want to make it simpler for authors to publicly share peer-reviewed, curated, formatted, indexed, citable raw research data.
Elsevier has long been supportive of researchers who wish to share their research data and we are continually working on ways to meet their data-related needs, while ensuring that they get credit for aspects of their work that are usually overlooked such as developing and sharing codes or methods. Here, we have decided to implement three recently developed initiatives to store, share, discover and facilitate re-use of data on twelve journals of the Materials Today family.
The three options that will now be offered to authors are:
- iPlots allows for direct access to the values of data points from graphs within articles;
- Open Data makes supplementary content available to all and allows for re-use under a Creative Common CC-BY license. Similarly to all supplementary content, this content is submitted alongside an article and is hence checked by editors and referees;
- Data in Brief is a new Open Access journal, publishing data articles that describe one or more data sets underpinning the study reported in linked journals.. By providing valuable context and metadata, these data articles facilitate data sharing and re-use.
These 12 journals, include the prestigious Acta Materialia, Scripta Materialia and Acta Biomaterialia, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells and the three Materials Science & Engineering titles. We selected these journals to cover a broad range of materials: biomaterials, semiconductors, polymers ceramics, metallic alloys, composites, concrete etc. These materials find application in construction, tissue engineering, energy generation, batteries, electronics or aircrafts.
Computational Materials Science and CALPHAD were the first journals in the materials science journal portfolio to offer options for authors to openly sharing research data. Prof. Susan Sinnott, Editor-in-Chief of Computational Materials Science, said: “I am pleased that Computational Materials Science is now participating in Elsevier’s new pilot: Open Data as this service provides authors with the option to easily upload their raw research data as a supplementary file free of charge.”
This data-sharing initiative received strong support from the Editors of the selected journals, “I am very supportive of this move for Polymer” said Stephen Z. D. Cheng, Senior Editor, Polymer and Frank C. Sullivan Distinguished Research Professor at the The University of Akron, as well as from our society partners at Acta Materialia Inc., whose Chair, Dr. George (Rusty) T Gray III, indicated: “Acta strongly supports this move and wants to have our journals participate. Having served on a few NRC panels advocating data archives, I firmly believe this is critical”.
Prof. Barraza-Lopez, from the University of Arkansas, who recently made use of the link to a description of his data in Data in Brief from Computational Materials Science, indicated that “with Data in Brief, many developments in research can become more useful when data sources are shared. We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to have our data accessible at no cost to the community."
How to proceed
iPlots: to submit an interactive plot with your article, authors simply upload a comma-separated values (CSV) file containing one or more data series.
Data in Brief: authors provide a precise description of the data as well as share the metadata necessary to facilitate re-use of the data by filling in a simple template. Authors must place the datasets alongside the data article as a) supplementary content, b) in a repository of their choice or c) make use of the Data in Brief DataVerse hosted by Harvard University. To make it easy for authors, the Data in Brief can be uploaded directly with their submission to a linked journal.
Open Data authors upload their raw research data as a supplementary material and classify the file as "raw research data" when submitting an article. Upon acceptance, the data file is made available open access to both subscribers and non-subscribers to view and download from ScienceDirect under a CC-BY license.