BOX 4-2

The Ecological Society of America’s Data-Sharing Initiative

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), which was founded in 1912, consists of more than 10,000 scientists from diverse fields studying ecological restoration, biotechnology, ozone depletion, species extinction, and many other topics.a All of the ESA journals archive their electronic publications using Portico, which preserves “scholarly literature published in electronic form and ensure[s] that these materials remain accessible to future scholars, researchers, and students.”b Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ithaka, the Library of Congress, and JSTOR, Portico was launched in 2005 and has almost 6 million journal articles archived. The ESA requires that data and information on methods and materials needed to verify conclusions be made available to editors of its journals on request, and strongly encourages authors to register their data in ESA’s official registry (

ESA also has devoted considerable attention to making unpublished foundational data accessible. In 2004 it formed a joint working group to promote data sharing and archiving. Representatives of the working group came from many organizations and a wide range of fields. Over the course of three meetings, the working group discussed the promotion and design of data registries,c the role of data centers,d and obstacles to data sharing.e

In addition, ESA is working to establish a National Ecological Data Center (NEDC), which would be a repository for metadata and datasets. The NEDC would feature a directory of connected data centers, an online manual, training, and free access.f

vidual U.S. researchers should be encouraged to participate in and lead international efforts to improve research data stewardship.


Researchers need a supportive institutional environment to fulfill their responsibilities toward the stewardship of data.

Recommendation 11: Research institutions and research sponsors should study the needs for data stewardship by the researchers they employ and support. Working

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