Data Journals: A New Way to Share Research Data

How do you share your data? If your answer only includes publishing results in a journal article or presenting results at a conference, think again! Consider that a journal article or conference presentation is composed of two parts: 1) the interpretation of data collected, in the form of the text, and 2) the supporting evidence, i.e., the data. These two parts are increasingly recognized as independently citable. In keeping with the University of Pittsburgh’s Guidelines on Data Management and policies from funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the underlying data developed with research awards should also be shared.

One response to this dichotomy has been the appearance of a new type of journal: the data journal. Data journals feature standardized descriptions and links to peer-reviewed datasets and supporting tools. Authors use a template to easily create the description during the submission process. This new publication type has been designated “Data Descriptor” by Nature Publishing. The published data descriptor is often, but not necessarily, associated with a separate journal article. Each publication type generates its own citations.

Data journals have the potential to improve dissemination and discoverability over data repositories because these journals 1) may be indexed in MEDLINE, EMBASE and other important biomedical databases, and 2) after established, could receive an impact factor from Journal Citation Reports.

While data journals promote and facilitate the reuse of datasets by publishing detailed and accurate descriptions, they do not usually host data themselves, but use links to data repositories, eliminating conflicts with funder, institutional, or publisher repository requirements.

Benefits of publishing research data separately include:

  1. Increased data citations
  2. Validation of data
  3. Data preservation services
  4. Reusable data for additional research
  5. Reusable data for teaching
  6. New collaborations

Find out more about each of these current data journals:

For more information about data sharing, see Data Management Planning: Data Sharing in the September 2013 issue of the HSLS Update.

~Andrea Ketchum