Data Availability Statement

Introduction

Reproducibility of scientific claims is integral to the integrity of published research. At the heart of research claims is the data from which results are obtained and conclusions are drawn. Without access to the original data, scientific claims can be difficult (if not impossible) to replicate. And if a study cannot be reproduced, how can we with certainty draw any subsequent conclusions? Sharing of research data strengthens scientific integrity and an inclusion of a data availability statement (DAS) will immediately satisfy if and how data can be made available to a third-party researcher. The benefits of mandatory DAS include encouraging the reuse of data, as well as enhancing compliance with relevant funder and institutional policies; this was the basis for the Nature research journals introduction of mandatory DAS in 2016. [1]

Many funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Wellcome Trust, Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation require data sharing as a condition of grants. Some of these funding agency policies, such as the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)’s policy also requires statements about data accessibility and links to data to be included in articles. In addition, Medline now requires the inclusion of a data sharing policy statement on the journal website.

Since 2016, Springer Nature has been rolling out standard data policies across our journals. All Nature and BMC journals now have a policy requiring data availability statements. Mandated data availability statements will be rolled out to Springer journals over the next year.


Policy

Mandatory data availability statements consolidate information on availability of data associated with the manuscript, whether data are in repositories, available on request, included with supplementary information or figure source data files.

This policy requires all Springer and Palgrave journals to adopt a research data policy which requires data availability statements. This policy does not introduce any data sharing mandates, but simply aims to make the availability of the data transparent.

Upon implementation of this policy, all Springer and Palgrave journals will satisfy the requirements of Level 1 ToP (Transparency and Openness Promotion) Guidelines. Springer Nature was an early signatory in this initiative that aims to promote transparency and reproducibility in research. The journals will also satisfy tier three requirements as set out in a multi-publisher data research policy framework, which we anticipate being endorsed by the STM Association in 2019.