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Data sharing and how it can benefit your scientific career – Nature (Gabriel Popkin | May 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 5, 2019

Open science can lead to greater collaboration, increased confidence in findings and goodwill between researchers.

Ecologist Thomas Crowther knew that scientists had already collected a vast amount of field data on forests worldwide. But almost all of those data were sequestered in researchers’ notebooks or personal computers, making them unavailable to the wider scientific community. In 2012, Crowther, then a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, began to e-mail and cold-call researchers to request their data. He started to assemble an inventory, now hosted by the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative, an international research collaboration, that contains data on more than 1 million locations. Data are stored in CSV files (plain-text files that contain a list of data) on servers at Crowther’s present laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and on those of a collaborator at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana; he hopes to outsource database storage to a third-party organization with expertise in archiving and access.

After years of courting and cajoling, Crowther has persuaded about half of the data owners to make their data public. The other half, he laments, say that they support open data in principle, but have specific reasons for keeping their data sets private. Mainly, he explains, they want to use their data to conduct and publish their own studies.

Crowther’s database challenges reflect the current state of science: partly open, partly closed, and with unclear and inconsistent policies and expectations on data sharing that are still in flux. High-level bodies such as the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the European Commission have called for science to become more open and endorsed a set of data-management standards known as the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) principles. Government funding agencies in the United States, Europe and Australia require researchers to devise plans for data management and, in some cases, data sharing; some private funders also require them. Many journals, including Nature, have adopted policies that encourage or require authors to make data available. A plethora of open-access repositories host data sets from almost all fields, and scientists have been publicly criticized by colleagues for not sharing data.

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Better Metadata Could Help Save The World! – Scholarly Kitchen (Alice Meadows | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 4, 2019

The title of this post may seem like a farfetched claim, however, no one can deny that we are currently faced with increasingly critical challenges — climate crisis, shrinking biodiversity, hunger, poverty, disease, and more. I think most of us would agree this means it’s essential for the research findings that could help address these challenges to be shared as quickly and widely as possible — and for the data behind those findings to be FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable). And that means…metadata!

As a community, we have a collective responsibility for sharing research outputs, including their metadata. That’s why Metadata 2020 is so timely and important (disclaimer: I am co-chair of their Researcher Communications project group). This community-led initiative aims to improve metadata in order to enhance discoverability, encourage new services, create efficiencies, and — ultimately — accelerate scholarly research. Lofty goals, to be sure! Which means that to succeed in achieving them we need the support of everyone who is involved in creating, curating, and consuming metadata.

Per the FAIR principles, “Metadata and data should be easy to find for both humans and computers.  Machine-readable metadata are essential for automatic discovery of datasets and services.” Building on this, the Metadata 2020 project group on Best Practices and Principles has developed a set of draft principles, which were recently released for community comment. They state that for metadata to support the community, they should be:

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(Japan) Former university president up to ten retractions – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on August 24, 2019

The former president of Tohoku University in Japan has just had a tenth paper retracted, because it duplicated one of his earlier works.

One of the most recent retractions by materials scientist Akihisa Inoue, late last month, was of a paper in Materials Transactions that had duplicated a now-retracted paper and was subject to an expression of concern in 2012:

This article had been acknowledged by the Editorial Committee of Materials Transactions as the secondary publication from the previously published paper, because the contents were almost identical. Recently, the original paper was retracted. Unreferred reproduction from another paper which was not pointed out in the announcement has also been found. Therefore, this article is improper as a scientific paper, and it is retracted with the primary author’s agreement. The authors are required to pay more careful attention to contributing papers.

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Fudged research results erode people’s trust in experts – The Conversation (Gavin Moodie | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on August 11, 2019

Reports of research misconduct have been prominent recently and probably reflect wider problems of relying on dated integrity protections.

The recent reports are from Retraction Watch, which is a blog that reports on the withdrawal of articles by academic journals. The site’s database reports that journals have withdrawn a total of 247 papers with an Australian author going back to the 1980s.

This compares with 324 papers withdrawn with Canadian authors, 582 from the UK and 24 from New Zealand. Australian retractions are 1.2% of all retractions reported on the site, a fraction of Australia’s 4% share of all research publications.

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