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What We’re Reading — October 7, 2019

The FireOak team keeps an eye out for and shares the most interesting articles, reports, and case studies related to managing, sharing, and securing information, data, and knowledge. Here are some snippets from what we’re reading right now. This week, our read examines the availability of data from science articles published in PLOS journals.

Reading Now: Knowledge Management, Information Security, Data and Information Management

This article, from the Impact of Social Sciences blog, delves into the level of data availability in Public Library of Science (PLOS) journals. Since March 2014, PLOS has required all submissions to include a Data Availability Statement that describes how to access “all data and related metadata underlying the findings reported in a submitted manuscript.” The data provided by the Data Availability Statement should allow the readers to agree with their use the data to reproduce the study or reuse the data for their own purposes. 

The PLOS policy provides authors options for sharing data, strongly encouraging the use of one of many available data research repositories for science data. Author Lisa Federer notes that research has shown that data sharing practices can vary widely by discipline, and data sharing can be a major culture shift for some researchers.

The research analyzed used “the Data Availability Statements of more than 45,000 research articles published in PLOS in the 28 months since the policy took effect.” 

Key Findings:

  • 18% of Data Availability Statements indicated that the data were available in a repository.
  • Over 70% of Data Availability Statements noted that the data were in the paper or its supplements.
  • This analysis did not investigate whether these papers did in fact contain a full, reproducible dataset or merely the type of summary data often found in papers.
  • Findings suggest that most authors are not sharing their data in ways that conform with best practices.
  • Data Availability Statements didn’t always provide all the necessary information; some gave only a repository name without a dataset name, accession number, or persistent unique identifier that would allow a reader to actually locate the dataset.


Federer, Lisa (2018) Journal data sharing policies are moving the scientific community towards greater openness but clearly more work remains. Impact of Social Sciences Blog (14 Jun 2018), pp. 1-3. Blog Entry. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/90744/

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