the authors of a publication. As a practical matter, the author designated in the publication as the corresponding author should be responsible for identifying which coauthor has the materials and other information requested by a third party and should confirm that they are provided when requests are made.
Workshop participants expressed a variety of views of how the scientific community can encourage authors to comply with their obligation to share. Several panelists emphasized that researchers should first take an informal, one-on-one approach to resolve compliance issues, because an initial lack of a response of an author to a request does not necessarily indicate ill intent. Requestors should first consider simple measures, such as telephoning an author to determine why he or she did not respond to a request, and seek resolution before expanding a dispute to involve other parties.
Institutions involved in the scientific enterprise—including journal editorial offices, universities, and funding organizations—should also assume some responsibility for ensuring that authors make available the resources that will enable other researchers to replicate, verify or refute, and build on reported results. If it becomes necessary for a requestor to move beyond straightforward overtures to a paper’s authors, most of the workshop participants agreed that journals should assume primary responsibility for enforcement.
It is not known how many instances of noncompliance are ever brought to the attention of journal editors or other external authorities. However, with respect to cases that are reported to journals, journal editors at the workshop reported a high rate of success in getting authors to share published materials and data, noting that a telephone call or letter from the editor-in-chief or managing editor to an author is often sufficient to resolve problems. Many journal editors stated their willingness to enforce standards of sharing, but one editor expressed concern about adjudicating complicated disputes over the sharing of data and materials, particularly those involving legal wrangling over intellectual property issues.
Sometimes an author might have the responsibility not to honor a request for published materials or data—for example, if bioterrorism is