Summary of workshop, discussion about the nature of JoRD

Here is another summary of the concluding discussion that took place at the workshop on 13th November. This is about the expectations and perceptions of publishers concerning the nature of the JoRD Data Bank service.

A prominent consideration of the publishers was that JoRD should be an authoritative resource, such that a JoRD compliance stamp, or quality mark, could be displayed on Journal’s websites. There was discussion that for JoRD to be authoritative, the content of the database should be added, updated and maintained by the JoRD team. It was mentioned that publishers might initially populate the data base, but ongoing maintenance would be the responsibility of JoRD. However, there should be a guarantee that the content is accurate and that publishers would need to commit to providing policies that can be machine readable in order for them to be automatically harvested.

It was suggested that the operational database should not be merely a static catalogue or encyclopaedia. It was requested that the non-compliance of a journal to a data sharing policy, or to a funder’s policy, could be flagged and reported to the publisher, although that request was queried as to whether that was the remit of the service, or the publisher themselves. Similarly, it was questioned whether the service would mediate user complaints, and proposed that it would engage with complaints concerning policies only. To maintain functionality, could there be automatic URL checking which would send an alert to the publisher if links were broken.  Updates to policy changes would also be a useful function.

The service website should include a model data policy framework or an example of a standard data policy and offer guidance and advice to journals and funders about policy development. However, the processing and ratification of a model policy could be a time consuming process to some publishers. It was asked whether repository policies would also be included, and there was mention of compliance with the OpenAIRE European repository network. The website should also contain:

  • Links to the publishers web-pages
  • Dates of the records
  • Lists of links to repositories
  • Set of criteria for data hosting repository

It should look inviting, but businesslike and be simple and clear, but be sufficiently detailed.

Methods of funding the service were considered and the benefits of membership. For example, would only the policies of members to the service be entered into the database? Would there be different levels of membership or different service options that publishers could choose? and would there be extra costs for extra services? One such service could be to contain historical records and persistent records to former policies. In the publisher’s opinion, they would be prepared to pay for a service that is transparent and would save them time.

Other comments included:

  • Would the service be a member of the World Data System?
  • Could it be released in Beta?
  • There are around 4-600 titles to enter initially
  • When set up the service could be studied to discover its effectiveness and impact
  • Further consultation may be needed

Very brief summary of JoRD workshop

On Tuesday 13th November some of the JoRD team met with representatives of several well known journal publishers for workshop a session to discuss a number of points concerning the potential JoRD data bank service. This is a very potted summary of the discussions that took place. If any of the attendees are reading this and feel that their comments have not been correctly interpreted, then please comment to correct any misunderstandings.

Preservation of and sustained access to published supplementary material: The current situation
The group perceived that at present there are a variety of issues that impede the maintenance of data added to an on-line journal as supplementary material, or even the practice of including data within an article. The areas where difficulties lie include:
• Technology
• Data repositories
• Embargoes
• Peer review
• Licensing
• Copyright
Unstable URLs, PDF formats and usable forms of preserved data present technological problems that need to be solved to ensure that data can be accessed in the long term. However, transferring data to new formats has fewer difficulties. Data may be linked to external repositories, but they present a problem because they each have different policies and practices. Embargoes placed on data release complicates matters, there is not standard for their length. To overcome these issues, an alternative solution would be not to include the data file with the article but to add information of where it can be obtained directly from the researcher. However, on-line journals will be upgrading to enriched HTML and should therefore commit to include data.

The group were concerned about the peer review of data, which is currently “Ad Hoc”. It was queried whether peer reviewers have time to examine data alongside judging arguments and suggested that data is reviewed by the research community. Currently publishers’ practices concerning licensing and copyrighting of data as supplementary material vary greatly. However EU legislation does not allow data to be copyrighted. Authors could be offered choices of licensing and work is being done to define data and on forms of data citation, however, publishers do feel a duty of care to the knowledge that they publish.

About data repositories: Advantages and disadvantages
Ideally, publishers would like repositories to be a searchable archive that manages data and collects retrospectively, such as the library of Columbia University gathering data for PLOS.

Advantages

  • The situation for publishers would be made simpler should data be held in external repositories
  • Technically more able to deal with digital data
  • Guidelines about re-depositing data if closed
  • Institutional repositories could manage data then aggregate it as in Australia

Disadvantages

  • May want to take over from publishers
  •  Not currently ready for influx of data
  • Funding may not be sustained
  • Discovery issues

Solutions to any of the issues posed above are not given in this post, but there is opportunity for you to comment. The remainder of the discussion focused on the structuring and content of a JoRD Policy Bank service, which will be summarised in the next post.

Online survey results part two

The second set of questions asked in the online survey ask for the opinions of researchers about data sharing and the usefulness of a data policy bank service. They are as follows:

  • Where do you access or locate the research output of other researchers?
  • In your opinion are the key drivers behind increasing access to research data?
  • In your opinion what are the main problems associated with sharing research data?
  • What do you think about linking a publication with digital data that are integral to its main conclusions?
  • What do you think about linking an article with supplementary material that enhances the article?
  • Do you think that journals should provide digital data sharing policies?
  • Do you think there would be benefits in having a service offering information about journal research data policies?
  • Would you use a service of this kind?
  • What information should be included in a policy bank service?
  • Do you have any other comments?

Most of the respondents locate other researcher’s data from colleagues or in their own institution or organisation and feel that the four most important key drivers to increasing access to data are:

  • Openness
  • Accountability
  • Increased access to data
  • Increased efficiency of research resources

The most frequently expressed concern is that of attribution of intellectual property right to the data being shared. The next frequently expressed issue is that current  institutional and establishment models and mindsets of institutions and some individuals create barriers to sharing data. However just over one-third of respondents (35%) consider that linking digital data as an integral part of  main conclusions in published online journals would be useful and should be mandatory.

Linking articles to supplementary data to enhance the article was considered useful by more respondents (43%) but it would also depend on the context of the data shared. Over 74% of researchers considered that journals should provide data sharing policies and a similar percentage (73%) thought that such a service would be of benefit, because it would be a central resource. Nearly 80% of respondents said that they would use such a service, either to gather data, or as a means of selecting where to publish their work. Many ideas of what to include in a policy data bank were suggested, which included:

  • Clarity and simplicity of use
  • Archiving URLs
  • Guidelines
  • Usage licences (eg Creative Commons)

Eight researchers commented that they considered the initiative important.

The least number of respondents said that they gather other research data from their own blog, or from hard copy data sets. The concerns expressed about sharing data were those of trust, confidentiality and the need to overcome existing mindsets and institutional barriers. A small number of researchers felt that sharing data would affect the future of research and that before sharing data certain conditions would have to be fulfilled. A very low number of people (3%) said that linking data to main conclusions was not useful and unnecessary; that they would only be interested in a published article, not in any additional material and that journals should not provide data sharing policies. One researcher commented that further research about the topic with a trial  would help their decision as to whether published data sharing policies would be of personal benefit.

Three percent of respondents thought that there would be no benefit to a data policy bank service, because it is not needed, not feasible or there would be conflicting journal ethos. Twenty one percent considered that they would not use such a service because they did not find it relevant and one researcher stated that they would prefer to deal directly with the journal.

On balance, it appears that more respondents are pro-data sharing, have positive opinions about the JoRD policy bank service and would find it useful, than respondents who feel that there is no need or use for such a service.

Preliminary Results of Online Questionnaire

The online questionnaire  closed on Monday 5th November and had been answered by 70 researchers. The survey comprised 20 questions asking for information about the researcher, their data sharing habits, their opinions of the possibility of openly sharing their data and the utility of a policy bank service. The first ten questions were as follows:

  • What is your academic discipline?
  • What is your subject?
  • How long have you been a researcher?
  • In which part of the world is your research institution based?
  • Do you generate research data/materials/programs etc?
  • What kind of data/materials/programs do you generate?
  • Where do you currently store you digital data?
  • Where do you currently store your non-digital data?
  • How accessible are your data/materials/programs to other researchers?
  • Are your data/materials/programs etc sharing habits going to change in the future?

Most of the respondents worked in the disciplines of Science or Social Science, however there were representatives from a substantial range of fields which means that the self selecting  sample was from a cross-section of research disciplines. The most frequently listed subject was some variety of Information Studies and around 33% of respondents were actively working on a PhD or M/Phil and roughly 30% had been post qualification researchers for between 5 – 14 years. The respondents were overwhelmingly based in Europe and nearly all of them considered that they generated some sort of data, which was mainly qualitative, but there was an equal balance between textual and numerical data.  Most people stored digital data on own computer and at a work server. The favoured form of other digital storage was Dropbox. However, when it came to non-digital data, many more people stored that at their workplace. Surprisingly around 56% of respondents already share their data, albeit with their colleagues. Slightly more researchers thought that they were unlikely to change their sharing habits (approx 37%) than change their sharing habits (36%).

The least number of respondents were from the field of Economics, one respondent was studying for a MSc, and fewer respondents had been working as researchers for over 15 years. Geographically, a very small number of respondents were based in South America and Africa, and a very few people answered that they did not generate any data. Visual Data was the least form generated. Few respondents stored digital data on a disciplinary digital or archive,  or non-digital data at an external repository. One correspondent appeared to destroy all raw data after research publication. None of the correspondents answered that they shared data with no-one, although certain researchers  shared only with their research partner. A few considered that they would share less of their data in future, while a small number of researchers were not able to share because of the sensitive nature of the data.

Questions 11 – 20 will be analysed and reported next week.

 

Some interesting news on Open Data

I’ve been away from the desk for a few days, here are some of the open data related news I found upon my return:

From January 2013, the BMJ will require there to be a commitment to make the relevant anonymised patient level data available on reasonable request, before publishing clinical trials results

http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7304

Erin C. McKiernan, a researcher working primarily in experimental and theoretical neuroscience, asks Who owns research data and the rights to publish?

http://emckiernan.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/who-owns-research-data-and-the-rights-to-publish-it/

http://emckiernan.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/who-owns-research-data-and-the-rights-to-publish-part-ii/

And finally, what are the Benefits of Open Data – Impact on Economic Research

http://oanow.org/2012/11/the-benefits-of-open-data-impact-on-economic-research/