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PLOS Clarifies Data Policy

Following the publisher’s announcement of an updated policy for the sharing of data underlying its open-access publications, PLOS apologizes for the confusion.

By | March 11, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, PLOSThe open-access publisher PLOS announced in late January that it was updating its data sharing policy to require that authors submit a statement of where the data underlying their research results could be found at the time of publication. Over the past couple of weeks, science bloggers, most notably DrugMonkey, have criticized the move, claiming that the new requirements “will burn a lot of time and effort that could be more profitably applied to conducting and publishing more studies.”

Last Friday (March 8), Theodora Bloom, editorial director of PLOS Biology, published a clarification of the new policy on the PLOS ONE Community Blog, claiming that much of the criticism revolved around a simple misunderstanding regarding which data must be made available.

“In the previous post, and also on our site for PLOS ONE Academic Editors, an attempt to simplify our policy did not represent the policy correctly and we sincerely apologize for that and for the confusion it has caused,” Bloom wrote. She noted that PLOS has struck the section called “What do we mean by data?” from its original blog post announcing the policy update, as this section was blamed for most of the confusion. “The policy does not aim to say anything new about what data types, forms and amounts should be shared,” she explained. “The policy does aim to make transparent where the data can be found, and says that it shouldn’t be just on the authors’ own hard drive.”

“The problem seemed to have stemmed from how the policy was communicated, rather than what PLOS actually wanted to accomplish, which is better data sharing,” Ivan Oransky noted at Retraction Watch. “In a time when reproducibility is a growing concern, the latter is a must.”

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