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      Public Availability of Published Research Data in High-Impact Journals


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          There is increasing interest to make primary data from published research publicly available. We aimed to assess the current status of making research data available in highly-cited journals across the scientific literature.

          Methods and Results

          We reviewed the first 10 original research papers of 2009 published in the 50 original research journals with the highest impact factor. For each journal we documented the policies related to public availability and sharing of data. Of the 50 journals, 44 (88%) had a statement in their instructions to authors related to public availability and sharing of data. However, there was wide variation in journal requirements, ranging from requiring the sharing of all primary data related to the research to just including a statement in the published manuscript that data can be available on request. Of the 500 assessed papers, 149 (30%) were not subject to any data availability policy. Of the remaining 351 papers that were covered by some data availability policy, 208 papers (59%) did not fully adhere to the data availability instructions of the journals they were published in, most commonly (73%) by not publicly depositing microarray data. The other 143 papers that adhered to the data availability instructions did so by publicly depositing only the specific data type as required, making a statement of willingness to share, or actually sharing all the primary data. Overall, only 47 papers (9%) deposited full primary raw data online. None of the 149 papers not subject to data availability policies made their full primary data publicly available.


          A substantial proportion of original research papers published in high-impact journals are either not subject to any data availability policies, or do not adhere to the data availability instructions in their respective journals. This empiric evaluation highlights opportunities for improvement.

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          Most cited references 24

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          The poor availability of psychological research data for reanalysis.

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            Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science

            John Ioannidis and colleagues argue that the current system of publication in biomedical research provides a distorted view of the reality of scientific data.
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              Withholding research results in academic life science. Evidence from a national survey of faculty.

              To identify the prevalence and determinants of data-withholding behaviors among academic life scientists. Mailed survey of 3394 life science faculty in the 50 universities that received the most funding from the National Institutes of Health in 1993. A total of 2167 faculty responded to the survey, a 64% response rate. Whether respondents delayed publication of their research results for more than 6 months and whether respondents refused to share research results with other university scientists in the last 3 years. A total of 410 respondents (19.8%) reported that publication of their research results had been delayed by more than 6 months at least once in the last 3 years to allow for patent application, to protect their scientific lead, to slow the dissemination of undesired results, to allow time to negotiate a patent, or to resolve disputes over the ownership of intellectual property. Also, 181 respondents (8.9%) reported refusing to share research results with other university scientists in the last 3 years. In multivariate analysis, participation in an academic-industry research relationship and engagement in the commercialization of university research were significantly associated with delays in publication. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were 1.34 (1.07-1.59) and 3.15 (2.88-3.41), respectively. Variables associated with refusing to share results were conducting research similar to the Human Genome Project (OR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.75-2.42), publication rate (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.01-1.03), and engagement in commercialization of research (OR, 2.45; 95% CI, 2.08-2.82). Withholding of research results is not a widespread phenomenon among life-science researchers. However, withholding is more common among the most productive and entrepreneurial faculty. These results also suggest that data withholding has affected a significant number of life-science faculty and further study on data-withholding practices is suggested.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                7 September 2011
                : 6
                : 9
                [1 ]Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
                [2 ]Department of Medicine, Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                [3 ]Department of Medicine, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
                [4 ]King Abdul-Aziz Cardiac Center, National Guard Health Affairs, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
                [5 ]Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
                [6 ]Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, United States of America
                [7 ]Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece
                [8 ]Biomedical Research Institute, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Ioannina, Greece
                [9 ]Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                University Paris Descartes, France
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: JI AA-A. Performed the experiments: AA-A WQ MA-M JI. Analyzed the data: AA-A WQ. Wrote the paper: AA-A WQ MA-M JI.

                Alsheikh-Ali et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 4
                Research Article
                Science Policy
                Research Assessment
                Publication Practices
                Research Reporting Guidelines
                Research Integrity
                Publication Ethics



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