Set your data free!

Elsevier’s new data guidelines provide direction on how to make your research maximally accessible


As an author, you will have experienced a growing demand from the wider research community and most probably from your funding bodies, for guidance and tools to increase the transparency, openness and reproducibility of the research you publish. Data sharing is an integral aspect of this. As a researcher, you might come across different data policies and solutions, which can make it difficult to decide what is relevant for you. Read on to see how Elsevier is helping authors navigate this important area.

Introducing new data guidelines

To provide more clarity for researchers publishing with us, we are now introducing standard data guidelines for our journals. This way, when you publish in an Elsevier journal, you know what to look for and what is expected of you. Because of the varying needs and practices in the different research communities, we have developed five different options for journals. This means that each journal has selected the option that is most in line with the policies and conventions in its community. The five options can be seen below and range from encouraging data sharing and citation to requiring that data is shared and peer reviewed.

TOP guidelines

Three options for your data

First, it is possible to link to your data via a domain-specific data repository. These repositories are often the best place for your data because they can ask for the information that is most relevant in your field. We collaborate with many domain-specific repositories and ask them for information about the links between articles and datasets. However, you can already ensure that the link is established by providing us with the unique identifier (e.g. DOI) of your dataset within the submission system and/or manuscript.  We are constantly adding new repositories to our list to ensure we cater to as many disciplines as possible.

In cases where there is no suitable domain-specific repository available, you can share your data through Mendeley Data, which is a generic repository accepting all file types from all disciplines. When you upload your data to Mendeley Data during the article submission process, a draft of your data will become available on Mendeley Data. Only you, the editor, and the reviewers have access to this draft. This gives editors and reviewers the opportunity to take a look and provide feedback. You can then still make changes to improve your dataset. By default, your data will only become publicly available when your article is published. If you want to analyze your data further before sharing with the world, you can also set an embargo date so that the dataset will become available at a later time.

In cases where you cannot share your data at all, you will have the option to make a data statement, explaining why your data is unavailable. This statement will then appear with your article. Should you wish to make your data available at a later point in time, you can still post it in a data repository and for a number of repositories we can retrospectively add a link.

To ensure you get credit for the work you have done to share good quality research data, we also encourage you to cite your research data in your article and add a data reference to the reference list. This way, others can easily find, reuse, and cite your data, guaranteeing that your work is recognized.

We hope you find the new guidelines and data sharing options useful. Making full use of these will ensure your research gets maximum visibility and will meet the demands for data availability that are becoming more and more prevalent. So what are you waiting for? Set your data free!


Written by

Catriona Fennell

Written by

Catriona Fennell

Following graduation from the National University of Galway, Ireland, Catriona Fennell joined Elsevier as a Journal Manager in 1999. She later had the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of peer review while supporting and training hundreds of editors during the introduction of Elsevier Editorial System (EES). Since then, she has worked in various management roles in STM Journals Publishing, and as Director of Publishing Services, she is now responsible for its publishing integrity and reproducibility programs.
Written by

Helena Cousijn, PhD

Written by

Helena Cousijn, PhD

Dr. Helena Cousijn obtained a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Oxford, where she developed a strong interest in research data. Having worked with various kinds of data and on several data-related challenges, she is now the Product Manager for Research Data at Elsevier. In this role, she is responsible for finding solutions to help researchers store, share, discover and use data. Helena is based in Amsterdam.

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