Extending Research Data Support to the whole community

Providing professional research data curation to all published researchers

At Springer Nature, we are currently developing the ways in which we support researchers with open data services and solutions. As a result of this, we are currently not accepting any new submissions to Research Data Support from individual Springer Nature authors. Find out how we can support you with your research data.

After a successful pilot, today we are extending the scope of our Research Data Support service pilot, making professional research data curation available to all published researchers.

Expanded scope

During the first phase of our pilot the service has been available to authors submitting manuscripts to participating Springer Nature journals, and to other authors, editors and organisations on request.

The most logical point to share research data is often in conjunction with a peer-reviewed publication. Through our (and previously published) user research and testing, the time when research data publishing and curation support is needed can vary by research project, journal and discipline. Some datasets we’ve published have been after publication of the related research article.

From today the service is available to anyone who wishes to share data supporting published, peer-reviewed scholarly work - in journals, books, and conference proceedings.

Visit go.nature.com/SNRDS to see if your research data are within scope for the service or contacts us with questions.

User feedback

Since we began our pilot project the Research Data Support team have worked on a wide variety of data types in a similarly wide variety of research disciplines. Over the past few months we have learned a lot - about the experience of users of the service; about the applicability and rigour of our editorial process to different file types and disciplines; and about the value of the service to authors, readers and editors.

The majority of our Research Data Editors’ checks on submitted datasets focus on the metadata - descriptive information about the files - and the organisation and naming of the files. The feedback we’ve received indicates this level of support is both valued by researchers and valued by the research community. And blinded assessments of edited and unedited datasets subject to our curation process have indicated that curated datasets are rated more highly by editors for metadata quality, discoverability and potential for reuse.

With the service, we want to help solve commonly reported problems researchers have in sharing datasets. Dr Samantha Giles, University of Oxford, corresponding author of a Nature paper needed an easy way of sharing the large datasets - imaging scans of fossils -  supporting her work. Dr Giles said: “I had a really great experience using the Service. The process was straightforward, and the team were very helpful at guiding me through the process and dealing with my enquiries. The resultant data package is very easy to access and navigate. I opted to use the service because I wanted to make sure that the data accompanying my paper are as accessible as possible, and this presents an ideal way of facilitating access.”

Dr Hasina Josué Rakotoniaina, University of Göttingen found the service saved time when publishing in BMC Ecology and sharing spreadsheet data that supported his article. Of his use of the service, he said: “[Research Data Support] provided an uncomplicated yet highly efficient way to share and archive my data. The whole process went smoothly and the team was always available and helpful. I really enjoyed the minimal effort and time I spent on the data submission, which resulted in high quality outputs.”

Site and service updates

As we make the services more widely available, we’ve made some updates to how we publish authors’ datasets after curation in figshare. These updates include:

  • Clear indication that Research Data Support was provided on published datasets

  • A designated group within the Springer Nature figshare portal for datasets that are not associated with our integrated service

We have also refreshed the Research Data Support microsite on springernature.com to give better coverage to:

Other developments

We have also carried out some successful pilots to provide research data publishing services for conferences. In October we published 10 datasets from authors publishing proceedings papers in International Semantic Web Conference 2017, and in December we provided a similar service to ECML-PKDD 2017. We have also created custom branded areas within Springer Nature’s figshare repository for each of these conferences, grouping the research outputs for these publications in one place.

What next for Research Data Support

We will continue to learn and refine the service in response to feedback and, for a limited time, the service remains free for individual researchers to use.

We also want to encourage researchers to share previously unpublished data. Data journals, such as Scientific Data and BMC Research Notes, can help achieve this but some researchers need support in depositing their data - often a first step towards publishing peer-reviewed articles about data. We encourage researchers interested in exploring Research Data Support for their unpublished works to contact us.

Our goal is to help researchers, institutions and funders make progress towards Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data. We’ll share further updates as we develop new features and services. We welcome community feedback and ideas on how Springer Nature can play its part in making good data practice the new normal.

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