Friday, January 9, 2015

"Open Data" opened by Elsevier

In the Xmas-holiday I received a message by Elsevier about the possibility to store raw research data online at ScienceDirect. Since the issue of Open Data is getting more and more important within the current research climate, this is an interesting initiative. For the moment, this is just a pilot program including 20 of its journals, but it might become a general possibility for all of its journals in the future.

I have not looked into the details of the program, so am not sure exactly what are strong and weak points. Questions that come to mind are:
  • who is responsible for the curation of the data?
  • is it possible to change the CC-BY license to a CC-BY-NC-ND license?
  • should reviewers take the additional burden of sifting through the raw research data? And this without being rewarded for their work? Because according to Elsevier, it will be the duty of reviewers and editors to do so: "Editors and reviewers validate that the submitted material is indeed considered to be raw research data in this field".
  • which kind of raw data should be made available?
  • will the raw data get its own Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to make it easier to credit the author(s) of the data?
  • who will be the owner of the raw data? The author(s) or Elsevier?
  • who will be the author(s) of the raw data? All authors for the corresponding paper or only those that were involved in its generation? (in an international collaborative research project this may become an interesting aspect)
  • when can the raw data be added to the paper? Only at submission time? 
  • What if parts of the data (which are not at all discussed or relevant for the current paper) will be used again for other future (or concurrent) papers?
  • Related to this last point: is there the possibility of an embargo during which the data have been deposited but not yet made public until other concurrent paper(s) have been published?
These are important issues that should be taken into consideration when deciding (or not) to publish raw data (in general), and within this particular pilot program as well. Nevertheless, an interesting initiative that should be studied in more detail, and could be leading to other editorial houses to follow suit.

This initiative is highly relevant for and very much related to a YAE Statement on Open Science that was released on Jan. 6, 2015, and which was prepared by the Open Science Task Force YAE (to which I belonged).

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