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COPE collaboration with FORCE11 Working Group

Developing resources for research data publishing ethics

As data sharing with publications has gained momentum, we have seen an increase in the number and variety of ethical cases that editors are facing in relation to the deposition, sharing and publication of research data. There is therefore a growing need for resources and guidelines that support editors and publishers as they develop or refine their policies, and to help editors handle individual situations they encounter. In line with our goal to support our members by providing practical resources, COPE is collaborating with the newly formed FORCE11 Research Data Publishing Ethics Working Group (WG) to lead the development of standards for research data in publications.

Data sharing has transformed over the past years, with the implementation of policies and continued development of data publishing infrastructure. An increasing number of journals have implemented data policies, ranging from a requirement that authors share the data underlying the article on publication to the implementation of author disclosures indicating whether data are shared or not, and if so, by what means. Other initiatives are working to support the building blocks for attribution and credit, such as Make Data Count. As a testament to the increasing interest around data associated with publications, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) designated 2020 as the STM Research Data Year.  

COPE has sought to facilitate discussions and debate among its members in relation to data sharing and journal data policies, referenced under COPE’s Core Practice Data and Reproducibility. Our 2016 Forum discussion focused on the practical implementation of data sharing policies and how they are  increasingly viewed as an essential step in improving research transparency and reproducibility. Data sharing was one of the topics at our 2017 European seminar with guest speaker Iain Hrynaszkiewicz presenting the benefits of data sharing for researchers, and the challenges they face. In 2018, COPE hosted the educational webinar, ‘Creating and implementing data research policies’, highlighting the practicalities and challenges of initiating and implementing data sharing policies. The experience of a publisher at the start of their “data sharing journey” illustrates how they introduced data policies across its journals, the practical implementation and lessons learned. A recording of the webinar is available to watch again. COPE also funded published research assessing data policies at journals across a number of disciplines. The authors looked at the information sharing policies of 150 journals and publishers from 15 disciplines to understand the levels of different data sharing policies in different fields. Our collaboration with the FORCE11 WG allows us to continue our work supporting editors and publishers in handling ethical considerations around the publication of research data.

The WG will develop guidelines and resources to support editors and publishers, data repositories, and institutions in handling the ethical responsibilities associated with publishing research data. As an immediate focus, the WG will create recommended workflows and flowcharts for the handling of cases, as well as a library of example cases and existing resources for the different stakeholders. Once available, the WG will share those resources with COPE members, and would very much welcome your feedback to help ensure the materials best serve your needs.

The FORCE11 WG draws on the expertise of a diverse group of representatives of publishing organisations, data repositories and institutions. COPE Council Member Matt Hodgkinson represents COPE in the WG, which is co-led by Iratxe Puebla, COPE Facilitation and Integrity Officer, and Daniella Lowenberg, Dryad Product Manager. The group welcomes additional participation from stakeholders from relevant areas; those interested in joining the group can do so via the FORCE11 page.

We look forward to sharing further information on our work with FORCE11 over the coming months.

Iratxe Puebla, FORCE11 member and COPE Facilitation and Integrity Officer

Matt Hodgkinson, COPE Council