Elsevier puts data in the spotlight

A researcher generates vast amounts of data during his or her career. But what to do with it all? Some data will be condensed into figures or tables in academic papers. Raw data can be included in publications as supplementary files, or deposited in a large range of repositories. Some data will be shared with colleagues in the lab, research institute, or collaborators further afield. But a vast amount of data goes unseen, unused, and uncredited. Now that data can be shared and reused freely, through some new initiatives now running at Elsevier and the Materials Today family of journals.

“Only a small fraction of the effort put in by researchers is reflected in published papers,” says publisher Dr Paige Shaklee. “[We want to] increase the transparency of research and give researchers credit for the work they have done.”

Data – its sharing, management, and archiving – is a pivotal part of research in the modern digital era. Funding bodies like the US National Science Foundation, EU Horizon 2020, and Research Councils UK now require researchers to include data management plans in grant applications and there is increasing interest in making the output from projects more widely available. One of the four main strategic aims of the White House Office of Science and Technology’s multimillion-dollar Materials Genome Initiative [1] launched in 2011 is making digital data more accessible. And, Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for digital issues, has stated: “Knowledge is the engine of our economy, and data is its fuel.” [2]

It is a move that Elsevier believes is good for research and innovation, and one where publishers have a key role to play facilitating the storing, sharing, and using of data. “There is a significant move towards being more transparent and sharing data will help with ensuring reproducibility,” explains Dr Baptiste Gault, publisher for materials science at Elsevier. “Publishers have to make it easy for researchers to share data,” he says.

“Data is an integral part of research and needs to be an integral part of communication and publishing.”Dr Hylke Koers, head of content innovation at Elsevier.

Elsevier now has a number of routes available for researchers wanting to share data while retaining authorship and receiving credit for its reuse. From February this year, researchers publishing work in one of 16 (and growing) selected journals in materials science can, if appropriate, choose to share whole data sets alongside their article using Open Data [3], turn data in the article itself into interactive graphs via Interactive Plots (iPlots) [4], or submit a complementary ‘microarticle’ that describes the data associated with the article to the open access journal Data in Brief [5], which can house the data set or link to another curated online repository.

Researchers publishing in one of sixteen top Elsevier materials science journals, including Acta Biomaterialia, Acta Materialia, Scripta Materialia, and Polymer, can make supplementary data available publicly to nonsubscribers using Open Data. But this isn’t limited to the Materials Today family, and a further 30+ titles across Elsevier’s journal portfolio are now linked directly to Data in Brief, allowing contributors to submit datasets alongside regular journal articles at the click of a button. Without having to make an additional submission, a brief description of the data following a standard template simply has to be uploaded. Data in Brief can now also publish standalone datasets and data articles not associated with an article.

The advantages for researchers are many-fold. Data is now easier find, reuse, and cite, facilitating the reproducibility of results and new studies, while the originator of the work gets the credit via a citation using the widely recognized Creative Commons ‘CC BY’ license.

“We want to facilitate a culture of sharing,” says Shaklee, the publisher responsible for Data in Brief, “and enable researchers to put their data in the spotlight.”
Putting the spotlight on ‘big data’ is another new journal, Materials Discovery [6], which is bringing together materials science and informatics. High-throughput methods are the bread-and-butter of drug discovery and biomedical research, but is now increasingly common in materials discovery and characterization as well.

Gault says the response from the research community in these early stages has been positive. “Within the first two weeks, we’ve seen uptake by authors and I am sure that more will embark on [data sharing] in the future,” he adds.

Data is becoming more and more important, says Dr Hylke Koers, head of content innovation at Elsevier. “Data is an integral part of research and needs to be an integral part of communication and publishing.”

Click here to read how Materials Today supports the Materials Genome Inititative.

Further reading

[1] http://www.whitehouse.gov/mgi

[2] http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-13-450_en.htm

[3] http://www.elsevier.com/about/research-data/open-data

[4] http://www.elsevier.com/about/content-innovation/interactive-plots

[5] http://www.journals.elsevier.com/data-in-brief/

[6] http://www.journals.elsevier.com/materials-discovery/