Elementa’s Editor-in-Chief for Atmospheric Science, Detlev Helmig, gives his view on the importance of data publication.

“In the academic University environment, most research these days is conducted under the umbrella of targeted research projects, funded by outside agencies. And, the most prominent model is to have graduate students or postdoctoral scientists be the work horses of this research. Results of successful studies are typically returned to the agencies in the form of project reports, and shared with the wider community at conferences and through publications. As students and postdocs often move on in their careers after the conclusion of projects, data stay behind, with the risk that electronic data become abandoned and sooner or later become no longer retrievable due to software or computer hardware upgrades and changes. The way out of this well recognized dilemma is to implement and more strictly adhere to the requirement for prompt data submission to a public archive.”

Peter Murray-Rust defines what is meant by Open Data:

‘Open Data (OD) is an emerging term in the process of defining how scientific data may be published and re-used without price or permission barriers. Scientists generally see published data as belonging to the scientific community, but many publishers claim copyright over data and will not allow its re-use without permission. This is a major impediment to the progress of scholarship in the digital age.’[i]

To facilitate data deposit, Elementa has established a partnership with Dryad, an international repository of data underlying peer-reviewed articles in the basic and applied sciences.  Elementa covers the Data Publishing Charge for authors.

Laura Wendell, Project Manager for Dryad, explains the importance of open source data, and Dryad’s encouragement for publishers to cover data publication costs.

How is Dryad involved with open data?

Dryad serves as a repository for tables, spreadsheets, flatfiles, and all other kinds of published data that do not have another discipline-specific repository. The Dryad repository allows investigators to validate published findings, explore new analysis methodologies, repurpose the data for research questions unanticipated by the original authors, and perform synthetic studies such as formal meta-analyses. All data files in Dryad are available for download and reuse, except those that are under a temporary embargo period, as permitted by editors of the relevant journals.

How did Dryad originate?

Dryad originated from an initiative among a group of leading journals and scientific societies in evolutionary biology and ecology to adopt a joint data archiving policy (JDAP) for their publications, and the recognition that easy-to-use, sustainable, community-governed data infrastructure was needed to support such a policy. See this page to learn more about JDAP.

The founding members of the Dryad Board were journal editors who were acutely aware of how data files associated with the articles in their journals were being lost, as the articles were published, but the underlying data not preserved. Keeping files on personal hard drives, notebooks or journal websites are other approaches, but they don’t preserve data for perpetuity and don’t facilitate others’ access or reuse of it.

Why does Dryad encourage publishers to cover the Data Publishing Charge (DPC)?

Covering the Data Processing Charge has many benefits for journals and publishers including:

  • Making it much more likely that researchers will comply with data archiving policies
  • Dryad is more economical and provides more value than many in-house data archives
  • Authors receive notification during the submission process that their data deposit has been sponsored by the publisher, demonstrating the publisher’s commitment to scholarly rigor and research quality
  • Volume and member discounts mean it costs less for publishers to sponsor deposits in Dryad than for authors to pay Dryad directly

To learn more about Dryad, visit their website.


[i] Peter Murray-Rust, Open Data in Science, Serials Review, Volume 34, Issue 1, March 2008, Pages 52–64, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.serrev.2008.01.001