In many fields of the life sciences, uniform standards for reporting data are still being developed. However, it is the committee’s view that once such standards have been established, journals should enforce them. Community standards, like the principles articulated in this report, are really only valuable to the extent that they are upheld by the scientific journals and honored by the community. The data generated by modern science may be increasingly diverse and complex and present novel challenges, but the power of the principles first established by Henry Oldenburg and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1665 remain undiminished: The rewards of publication counterbalance inclinations to secrecy. Oldenburg’s simple idea created an ethic of open disclosure of scientific results that has lasted for centuries and served to move science forward. We hope this report, which reaffirms that ethic, will be a useful contribution to the community’s discussions of standards for sharing publication-related data and materials.
With this philosophy in mind, the committee puts forward several recommendations for consideration and discussion by the community:
Recommendation 6. Scientific journals should clearly and prominently state (in their instructions for authors and on their Web sites) their policies for distribution of publication-related materials, data, and other information. Policies for sharing materials should include requirements for depositing materials in an appropriate repository. Policies for data sharing should include requirements for deposition of complex datasets in appropriate databases and for the sharing of software and algorithms integral to the findings being reported. The policies should also clearly state the consequences for authors who do not adhere to the policies and the procedure for registering complaints about noncompliance.
Recommendation 7. Sponsors of research should clearly and prominently state their policies for distribution of publication-related materials and data by their grant or contract recipients or employees.