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Data Sharing Shortfall

Even when journals ask that published researchers make raw data public, they tend not to.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Researchers are, by in large, not making their raw data publically available, even when the journals they publish studies in ask them to do so, according to a study of 500 papers published in the 50 highest-impact journals in 2009. Additionally, the journals' policies regarding such data sharing vary widely. Almost half of the journals surveyed required that authors publish post their raw data on publically accessible databases, while just as many encouraged such data sharing without mandating it. Publication guidelines at a handful of the journals make no mention of public data sharing at all, the study found.

The survey, published last week in PLoS ONE, included 351 papers bound by some data-sharing policy but found that less than half of these (only 143) complied. The most common failure to publish raw data involved microarray data. "The current state is not optimal," study leader John...

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