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ResourcesResearch IntegrityWhat Constitutes Peer Review of Data? A Survey of Peer Review Guidelines – Scholarly Kitchen (Todd A Carpenter | April 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

What Constitutes Peer Review of Data? A Survey of Peer Review Guidelines – Scholarly Kitchen (Todd A Carpenter | April 2017)

Published/Released on April 11, 2017 | Posted by Admin on June 13, 2017 / , , , , , , , , ,

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The sharing of research data has exploded in the past decade, and a variety of publications and organizations are putting policies in place that require data publication in some form. Over the past decade, the number of journals that accept data has increased, as have the number and scope of repositories collecting and sharing research data. Prior to 2010, data sharing was quite limited in scholarly publishing. A 2011 study of 500 papers that were published in 2009 from 50 top-ranked research journals showed that only 47 papers (9%) of those reviewed had deposited full primary raw data online. During the intervening years, the pace of data publishing increased rapidly. As another study notes, the number of datasets being shared annually has increased by more than 400% from 2011 to 2015, and this pace will likely continue. A culture of data sharing is developing, and researchers are responding to data sharing requirements, the efficacy of data sharing, and its growing acceptance as a scientific norm in many fields.

With the increased publication of datasets (partly in response to the policies of research funding bodies, and partly in response to the policies of journal publishers), what constitutes peer review of those datasets? This Scholarly Kitchen discussion piece from April 2017 examines the policies of the key publishers.

The process is driven in part by both funding and publication policies, which have been encouraging data sharing. The number of titles that explicitly require such sharing in some form is also increasing rapidly. In the past few years, PLOS, AGU, SpringerNature, and the American Economic Association, to highlight just a few, have each put forward policies about data sharing. In addition, data access has been the focus of other efforts, such as the COPDESS Statement of Commitment, which has 43 signatories. A variety of funding agencies, such as the Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation, and the Arnold Foundation now include data sharing as part of their funding policies, and a variety of government agencies are covered by the 2013 OSTP memo on increasing access to federally funded research.
A core element of what distinguishes scholarly publishing from trade publishing is the peer review process. As the availability of research data is increasing, it is important to ask how much of this data is peer reviewed. In a 2014 Study of 4,000 researchers by David Nicholas et al, “[i]t was generally agreed that data should be peer reviewed.” But what constitutes peer review of research data? What are existing practices related to peer review of research datasets? Since a number of journals specifically focus on the review and publication of datasets, reviewing their policies seems an appropriate place to start in assessing what existing practice looks like in the “real world” of reviewing and publishing data.


Read the rest of this discussion piece

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