02 June 2014

Data journals (and how I'm telling people about them)

One of the things I've done today is write a short piece on data journals (reproduced in its entirety below) for our Information Services (INS) online newsletter, INSight

INSight is published monthly by our division's Communications team; all university staff receive it as an email as well as being able to access it via the web. As a channel, I've found it a really useful way to get important updates about data management out to a big chunk of the university community. Through the magic of web analytics, we know that INSight is opened by almost 50% of the people who receive it; this is far above the 'open rate' of around 20% for newsletters like this, which is a testament to our Comms team's expertise and hard work. (Be kind to your Comms people because they can do things that you might find difficult, like source professional images to accompany stories and write snappy headlines that make people actually want to read your stories about data management rather than poke their own eyes out.)

Research data advocacy is a never-ending task, so I always look for opportunities to get word out through as many channels as possible using the least amount of resources. This single piece of content has now been repurposed in at least four different ways. 
  1. Initially I decided to send an email to the team leaders of two of our Academic Services Groups (Health and Sciences) within Library and Learning Services about the release of the new data journal from Nature.
  2. I did this knowing that these team leaders regularly make written and verbal reports to meetings of the Group Boards (senior management of the faculties), and asked them to include this in their reports. On reflection, I realised that many researchers might be unaware of the emergence of data journals. I re-wrote my initial email to include more contextual information and links to key resources, such as a list of available data journals and an ANDS guide. 
  3. By broadening the scope of the story in this way, it then become a piece suitable for inclusion in INSight for all university staff. 
  4. And here it is again on this blog, for the small but passionate crowd interested in the point where data and libraries meet. 
Do you make the most of the content that you write by re-purposing it for different outlets and audiences? Are you aware of all the channels that are available in your organisation, and do you have good relationships with the editors/owners of those outlets? If not, I highly recommend this as a sanity-saving strategy.
    Data journals represent an exciting new trend in scholarly publishing and provide an opportunity for researchers to formally publish (and potentially be rewarded) for their research data outputs. While traditional journals often include datasets only as supplementary materials, data journals focus on research datasets as important outputs that can be re-used and cited in their own right.
    In 2012-2013, the Peer Review for Publication & Accreditation of Research Data in the Earth Sciences (PREPARDE) project collated a list of around thirty data journals across a range of disciplines, mostly in the sciences.
    The most recent data journal to be launched comes from the well-known Nature Publishing Group. Scientific Data is an open-access, peer-reviewed outlet for articles that describe important scientific datasets. These articles, called data descriptors, are described as “a new category of publication designed to provide detailed descriptions of experimental, observational, computational or curated data." Scientific Data does not host the datasets, which must be submitted to an appropriate external repository. Approximately sixty data repositories in life sciences, biomedicine and environmental sciences are currently recommended and this is likely to expand in future. The FAQs provide more information about submission and peer review processes, publication charges, and licensing options.
    Data journals have different policies and requirements for submission, review, and data hosting. INS can help researchers identify data journals that might be suitable, and can provide advice on institutional and discipline repository options. To find out more about data journals, contact the Library Specialists for your academic group.
    The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) also has a useful Data Journals Guide for researchers and information managers.