The shape of a JoRD policy bank service?

We have established that researchers would certainly use a JoRD service, and publishers, repository managers, librarians would all find their own uses for the service. It has already been blogged that an ideal service that contains every item requested by stakeholders would be an expensive and extensive project, so what sort of service could be offered. Four options were devised and market tested on an assortment of stakeholders, academic librarians, publishers, repository managers, researchers, funders and representatives from similar data initiatives. The options were as follows:

  • Basic – an online searchable database of journal data policies, similar in approach to RoMEO
  • Enhanced  – an online searchable database of journal data policies with additional data integration such as funder policies, lists of recommended  repositories, or institutional policies
  • Advisory – as Basic and Enhanced services with the addition of research and advisory services, for example guides and instructions , best practice, model policy,and language, updates
  • Database with Application Programming Interface  (API) – as Basic and Enhanced but with no or minimal web interface but with and API which would allow third-parties to use data and develop applications

Most of the people interviewed thought that the basic option was option they would use.  Here is a table to show that  Possible value propositions. However, it was thought too basic to generate any income and some groups considered that it had limited value on its own. The enhanced service seems to be favoured by publishers, for example the inclusion of funder policies would be more valuable than other publisher’s journal data policies. The Advisory service was the option that most people thought would be the greater value for money, but participants cited other advisory services that could provide the same function as that aspect of JoRD. Finally, the high quality database with API and strong invitation for third party Apps was thought of as being a practical way to create an enhanced service. Unfortunately, none of the options emerged from the consultation as the optimum service which would generate its own income.

So, the shape of a JoRD service is still unknown and the method of funding is still unknown, but what has been achieved is that now there are no unknown, unknowns.



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.


Invitation to researchers to participate in an online survey for JoRD

Researchers – as stakeholders in the data sharing and policy environment – are invited to participate in an online survey for project JoRD.

JoRD (Journal Research Data Policy Bank) is a JISC funded initiative conducting a feasibility study into the scope and shape of a service to collate and summarise journal policies on Research Data. Such a service could provide researchers, managers of research data and other stakeholders with a central source of reference to understand and comply with these policies.
The project has just launched an online survey aimed at researchers. The survey is part of the stakeholder consultation phase of the project and aims to gauge researcher opinions/practices concerning research data, data sharing, the policies of journals, and thoughts on the shape of such a service.

The results of the survey will allow us to build a picture of researcher needs and will help inform recommendations made by the report.

The link to the online survey is given here:

Please feel free to distribute this link to other researchers that you may know.

We plan to keep the survey open until the end of Sunday 4th November.

Invitation to a Focus Group – Monday 8th October (evening) – Nottingham

Do you live near Nottingham? – Would you like to take part in project JoRd and have your say?

Research Data, Data Sharing, and the Policies of Journals

The project is arranging a focus group evening in central Nottingham on the evening of Monday 8th October.

Do you generate research data? Do you share your data? How do you share it? How do you feel about this? Do you re-analyse the research data of other people? Would you welcome a policy bank of journal research data sharing policies? What are the issues involved in this area?

If you live in the East Midlands and want to come along to discuss the topic we would be pleased to hear your views.

This event has been scheduled as part of the programme of the Nottingham Cafe Scientifique et Culturel which operates from a Meetup site.

Details of the event can be found at the following link on the Meetup Group site:

In brief, the details are:

Date: Monday 8th October (evening)

Time: 8.30 for 8.45 p.m.

Venue: Lord Roberts Public House (Basement), 24 Broad Street, Nottingham (same street as the Broadway Cinema in the Hockley/Lace Market area).

RSVP: by email to Melanie Heeley to register your interest (

Journal Research Data Policies – Survey

Carrying out the Survey

There are 4 main working spreadsheets for the survey of  Top/Bottom Science/Social Science Journals – approximating to 400 journals.

Each journal has now been reviewed and the results collated into the appropriate spreadsheet in accordance with the example given on the Project Data page of the JoRD Blog.

The  survey of  Journal Research Data Policies incorporates:

  • the top 100 and bottom 100 Science Journals
  • the top 100 and bottom 100 Social Science Journals

according to Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Reports.

This will help to shed light on the current state of data sharing policies within various journals.

Finding a Data Sharing Policy

Data sharing policies are likely to be found in:

  • Instructions for Authors
  • Author Guidelines
  • Submission Information
  • Publishing Policy
  • Open Access Policy
  • Data Sharing Policy
  • Data Accessibility Policy
  • Supplementary publication procedure
  • Supplementary online material
  • Ethical Guidelines

Some Preliminary Notes on the Data Collected From the Survey

  •  Science journals – many top rated journals have STRONG POLICIES relating to known/named data repositories which give accession numbers for the datasets entered (or similar) e.g. GENBANK.
  • Science/Social Science journals – with STRONG POLICIES are also likely to have one or more ‘supplementary data’ type policies (WEAK POLICIES).
  • STRONG POLICIES – usually monitored by Accession Number (or something related to the external storage of the data) which needs to be in the MS on submission – pre-monitoring rather than post-publication monitoring.
  • WEAK POLICIES – are mainly Supplementary Data type – and the data is mainly stored with the journal itself (although occasionally a link to an existing repository can be given).
  • WEAK POLICIES – Multimedia figures heavily in WEAK Supplementary Data type policies.
  • Some policies operate at publisher level – so there is a generic policy for many of the titles (e.g. Annual Reviews). Occasionally though there are policies specific to the individual journal for a given publisher (depending on the nature of the data/journal/editorial board).
  • Some journals did not provide EXPLICIT Data Sharing instructions in their Author Guidelines – however, this may be because there were instructions to the Author to follow Guidelines on other sites or Links which may make mention of Data Sharing e.g. Ethical policies, the guidelines of the American Psychological Association. This is part of the Ethical landscape of the discipline itself rather than the individual journal.
  • Bottom rated journals seemed less likely to have data sharing policies.
  • Some journals did not seem to have any obvious Author Guidelines at all (let alone Data Guidelines).
  • Some journals had broken links, so policies were unavailable on the day of review.
  • Impact of the nature of the data? – falsifiable/experimental data, with named repositories, having clear data formats, leads to more policies?