What to put in an ideal JoRD service

The Feasibility Study has been asking researchers, representatives of Publishing Houses, repository staff and librarians about their image of an ideal JoRD service to give some sort of indication of how to build a resource that will be useful. So far, the most ideal service which would achieve the desires of all the stakeholders would not only include a database to contain all the details of every journal data sharing policy, cross-matched with funders requirements and lists of suitable repositories but also employ a team of human staff to constantly update the data base, provide customer service and advice about best practice and give educational workshops and seminars. This would be ideal, but expensive, and ideals cannot always be reached, at least not initially.

So, who wants what out of the service? These are the service requirements each stakeholder group suggested.

Researchers would like the service to:

  • Have a clear, visual user friendly website with technical support, and information about the service and its scope
  • Include summaries of policies, RCUK baseline policies, compliance statistics
  • Include the URL of journal policy
  • Provide contact details of researchers

Researchers told us that they would use the service to find the journal which is right for their data and funder’s requirements, find appropriate repositories and to look for openly accessed data.

Publishers asked for:

  • A simple attractive web page
  • An authoritative resource
  • Compliance monitoring and sanction information
  • Technical error reporting
  • Guidance about best practice, current issues, changes and trends and a model policy
  • A policy grading system
  • Levels of membership

Publishers said that they would use the service to gather competitor intelligence, a source of advice and as a central resource to get information about funder’s requirements and accredited repositories.

Both researchers and publishers wanted:

  • Guidelines about data submission,  such as copyright, use licensing, ethical clearance, restrictions and embargoes and file format
  • URLs of places where data can be archived and retrieved

As far as other stakeholders are concerned, librarians  considered that the service could give publication and funding compliance guidance for researchers as well as support research data management policies. Funders thought that the  service could track the development of Journal data policies and influence the data sharing behaviour of researchers. Representatives of repositories thought that a central data policy bank would be a resource where they could check consistency and compliance of journal data policies and possibly identify partner journals. It seems that a JoRD Policy Bank Service would have something to offer for everyone in the research industry. The quest now, as in all research activity, is finding someone who will pay, so that the ideal service will not be such a distant dream.


Barriers to sharing data

There is a stereo-typical image of a covetous academic, dedicated to their work and who hoards the data for their research, so that no-one else will achieve the acclaim for their life’s work. Presumable this stereo-type arose from such stories as Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz having a major dispute over which of them first discovered Calculus. In hindsight, both of them discovered it independently and both deserved acclaim. Charles Darwin kept his data on the “Origin of the Species” for very many years, before being persuaded to publish what turned out to be a popular science book of its day.

But we are not in the 17th or 19th Centuries, we are in the age of Information, Internet and global networks where collaboration has become respected. Teams of scientists are now rewarded, for example the Manchester University Physicists Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov who won the Nobel Prize for Physics with their invention of Graphene. The Royal Society report “Science as an Open Enterprise” (http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/sape/2012-06-20-SAOE.pdf) describes how an outbreak of e-coli which originated in Hamburg was contained by the work of scientists in four continents who posted their analysis of the virus onto open source sites.  The genetic sequencing of the virus was completed by scientists in Hamburg and China, which was then posted onto an open source site with an open data license. In July of last year the European Commission published a press release outlining the measures that they will take to improve open access to scientific information that is produced in Europe, because the Commission feels that open access to data will improve Research and Development,and increase knowledge and  competitiveness in Europe (“Scientific data: open access to research results will boost Europe’s innovation capacity” http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-790_en.htm).

Such openness and swift communication is expected by today’s researcher. However, an EU study found that only 25% of researchers openly share their data.  The researchers that participated in our study expressed the desire to share their data, some were already sharing, but others found that although they wanted to share it was not easy to achieve. Many felt that there were barriers put in their way, one of which involved the old stereotype, they were not expected to share. For example, funding bodies may well be encouraging researchers to give open access to data that was paid for from public funds, but researchers believe that they will not get funding from using the data that someone else has collected although it would be an efficient and economical way of  carrying out research. Researchers also reported that universities attract funding for new projects, not for re-use of data, and there is more interest in publishing new research rather than replication studies.

Practical reasons were also mentioned, for instance personal barriers to sharing data were listed as:

  • Not knowing  where to deposit data
  • Lack of time and resources to undertake the deposit of data
  • Confidentiality and sensitivity of data, restrictions from funding body or breaking trust with research participants

Barriers in the wider scientific environment were reported as the difficulty in accessing data repositories because of lack of standardisation, and a poorly supported data sharing environment. It would seem that there are two main barriers to be crossed before the open sharing of data is completely commonplace. First the stereotype of the data hugging scientist must disappear from the minds of  researchers, funders, Higher Educational Institutions and publishing houses. Secondly, the infra-structure of  data deposit sites, how, when and where to deposit data, has to be fully resolved, publicised and implemented. Once again, it would appear that a JoRD Policy Bank Service would be of great value to researchers because it would supply a central resource of how, when and where to share data,  contribute to improving the data-depositing infra-structure and remove one barrier to the open access of data.

Seasons Greetings

The JoRD team have been beavering away this week writing up the report for the feasibility study, but I am afraid that you have to wait until after the holidays to find out the outcomes. No posts for a few weeks while the office is closed and we are all refreshing our brains and enjoying our many Christmas pursuits.


So, on behalf of the JoRD team I wish you all a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year!

Other data intiatives that are out in the world

To find out whether there are any other projects, products or services already performing the same function as JoRD, a quick survey was done to find out what other data initiatives there are, and what services they offer. So far 29 have been identified, although there may well be others. Most of them are known to be current ongoing initiatives, but some of them seem to have started, but have not been updated for a while. They are mainly funded by Universities from around the world and at least four demonstrate successful collaboration between Universities internationally. Many UK initiatives are JISC funded. Three are funded by Governments, one being an international initiative. Eleven are subject specific.

Only five of the initiatives indicate that they can advise researchers about data policies and guidelines, and four deal with best practice. Nine are concerned with linked data. Fortunately, none of them appear to be supplying the type of service that JoRD would deliver. Here are some details of the most interesting projects.

  • DaMaRo ( http://damaro.oucs.ox.ac.uk/)  is an initiative between JISC and Oxford University to create the University’s data management policy and build the  infrastructure to be able to comply with the policy. It is associated with DataFlow (http://www.dataflow.ox.ac.uk/) and DataBank (http://www.dataflow.ox.ac.uk/index.php/about/about-databank.) which are being developed by Oxford University and the Bodleian Library to provide an open source developed infrastructure that will aid the storage of create DOIs for large data sets.
  • DRYAD (http://datadryad.org/) is a digital repository that is supported by many international scientific societies. It has been created by open source  development and facilitates data storage and retrieval, provides advice on best practice, links data and attributes DOIs.
  • Global Biodiversity Information Facility or GBIF (http://www.gbif.org/) provides infrastructure and links to biodiversity data
  • SPQR (http://spqr.cerch.kcl.ac.uk/) provides links and meta-data searches to ancient documents
  • KAPTUR (http://www.vads.ac.uk/kaptur/) is a new project run by a consortium of art universities to capture, preserve and produce best practice of data management unusual data formats, such as sketchbooks or textile designs.

A more explanatory table can be found here.

Chart of Data initiatives

If you have any further information about the initiatives in the table, or you know about other, then please respond by comment.


Welcome to the JoRD (Journal Research Data Policy Bank) project blog – JoRD is a JISC funded initiative conducting a feasibility study into the scope and shape of a sustainable service that will collate and summarise journal policies on Research Data to provide researchers, managers of research data and other stakeholders with an easy source of reference to understand and comply with these policies.

This initiative is funded as part of the JISC Digital Infrastructure Programme