All research articles published in Nature Research titles now provide data availability statements as a distinct article section that is freely and universally accessible. This means that data availability statements are now equivalently accessible to abstracts, full reference lists, supplementary information, acknowledgements, and other key article information. See two examples from Nature here (pictured) and here.
Since 2016, we have required all primary research papers published in Nature Research journals to include a data availability statement. The aim of this policy was to make the conditions of access to the “minimal dataset” ― defined as the dataset necessary to interpret, validate and extend the findings ― transparent to all readers. Data availability statements have become a widely established mechanism for authors to consistently describe if and how research data supporting their publications are available. Such statements are required by many other Springer Nature journals in addition to the Nature Research journals, including the BMC group of journals, as well as those of other publishers. They are also increasingly used by funding agencies, institutions and researchers, as a means to measure data-sharing practices and behaviours ― and for building better connections between data and literature. Some funding agencies, such as the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, also require that data access statements are provided for policy compliance.
We believe that enhancing discoverability of data availability statements, by providing them as a separate section, could also:
- Increase accessibility and reuse of the data-supporting publications, by making it easier to find ― by humans and machines
- Encourage citation and reuse of data, including of data that are not publicly available
- Promote good practices and common standards in preparing data availability statements
- Enable funding agencies, institutions and other stakeholders to better monitor data sharing and compliance with data sharing-policies
- Enable more precise research of data-sharing behaviours and practices
Our change in the way we present data availability statements to readers underscores our commitment to facilitating data access and the importance of data as a crucial component underlying the integrity, re-use and extension of published research. Our guide to authors and our specific guidance on data availability and data citations have been updated to reflect these changes.
This post was jointly written by Iain Hrynaszkiewicz, Head of Data Publishing, Open Research Group at Springer Nature, and Sowmya Swaminathan, Head of Editorial Policy and Research Integrity at Nature Research.