Navigating the Open Data landscape in Ecology and Evolution – lets make it work

Did you know that lot of Ecological and Evolutionary data lay scattered around many different repositories, and are (mostly) free to use? Or maybe you find it difficult to locate research data that could support your work? The good news is that we can now help you (and you can help us)! But, let’s start at the beginning of the story.
Navigating the Open Data landscape in Ecology and Evolution – lets make it work

The paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution is here:

The original version of this Behind the Paper can be found on the Nature Ecology & Evolution Community

I have become aware of the problem of finding research data several years ago when I was doing a meta-analysis during my PhD. To my surprise, results of many studies were not fully reported, in which case I needed the original data (or authors help). Then, a second surprise came: it turned out  to be very difficult to locate the authors, and once contacted, many authors didn’t have the data any longer!

This situation has rapidly changed since, with the emergence of the new era of science: Open Science. Open Science is opening (making available for everyone to use) publications, data, and software. I was curious to see how much Open Data is there in my fields (Ecology and Evolution) - spoiler: a lot. I dived into the topic, with a help from Marcel, Tom, Saskia, and several other people from my institute (Netherlands Institute of Ecology). Being completely new to Open Science, I started to read piles of literature, and to attend Open Science conferences. I haven’t seen many EcoEvo people there, but started to hang out with what I call Open Science people. Paolo, whom I met at several of these events, was a great person to talk to and had the first-hand knowledge about the infrastructures that support Open Data landscape. So, joining our forces, Paolo, Miriam, Marcel, Saskia , Tom and me embarked on the mission to make the Open Data landscape more approachable (and thus more used) by EcoEvo researchers.

We were working fast, and it was a great experience to, for the first time, collaborate with people who were not at all close to my scientific field. Another great (thought less relevant) experience was feeding ducks in a break of writing paper draft with Tom (finding – gulls steal food from ducks).

So, what is there for you? Well, we did a good job in identifying platforms that you can use to search for EcoEvo data. This is equivalent to when you use Web of Science to search for papers across many different journals - these platforms for data search for datasets across many different data repositories. We provide a list of these platforms in our paper ( More importantly – and this is where you can get involved – we started an online platform that lists and describes data harvesting places. You can access it here: Because the data landscape is very dynamic, we would like that this platform becomes community driven – researchers can add resources they have found useful, and describe their experience with these. To do so, please register here:

Hope to see more and more members joining the community, using and adding resources, for the benefit to EcoEvo research!

The study is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution

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