New data journal lets researchers share their data open access

Data in Brief enables researchers to publish reproducible data – and get credit for it

Not long into my PhD research, my supervisor asked me why I wasn't writing up an article based on the hours upon hours of fluorescence microscopy movies I'd accumulated over the past year.

I told him it was because I couldn't generate an earth-shaking story from the data no matter how I changed the angle of my analyses.

His response: "This is good, solid data that you should publish."

His point really hit home with me: each piece of data that has been carefully and thoughtfully gathered has value. Often, you don't know what future value that data will have until you've shared it with colleagues in the scientific community.

Unfortunately, when I look back on my own scientific research and publications, most of the data I crammed into my articles and supplementary materials lacked the context needed for other researchers to actually benefit from the data. I doubt I would have been able to reanalyze or reproduce any of that data based on what I'd written in the article or presented in the supplementary material. Without a thorough description, any initial value to the data is lost.

The new Data in Brief journal has been created in an effort to extend the use of data so painstakingly gathered.

Data in Brief journal

Data in Brief is a place for researchers to thoroughly describe, highlight and share their data. Data that may have never left the lab bench, data that normally goes unnoticed in supplementary files, and data in public repositories now have a venue for publication.

Data in Brief is taking lessons from the journal Genomics Data, which pioneered the Data in Brief article in the genomics community, putting a sharp focus on data reuse and reproducibility. Now, in Data in Brief, authors across all scientific disciplines are invited to thoroughly describe their datasets. The peer-reviewed, published articles are purely descriptions of data; they do not provide functional data, do not attempt to address hypotheses nor provide novel scientific interpretation and insight. We ask authors to fill in a template to provide base level context to their data and explicitly say why the data described in the Data in Brief article is of value to the greater scientific community. These requirements make datasets searchable and consequently more useful to others.

The journal is a response to the way the life sciences are evolving.

Submit your own Data in Brief

Here's how to submit a Data in Brief article to the Data in Brief journal.

  1. Make sure your data is publicly available in a repository. If your discipline doesn't have a "go to" repository, please feel follow these instructions to upload your data to the Data in Brief DataVerse.
  2. Fill in this data article template.
  3. Submit the completed template along with any other files needed to understand your data via the journal's online submission system.


See the first Data in Brief articles on ScienceDirect.

"I believe that biological science today is more about processing information than any specific technique," said Data in Brief Editor-in-Chief Dr. Hao-Ran Wang, Labhead of the Ion Channel Group at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

Making that information accessible, then, is essential for our future advances in science and medicine.

All data associated with Data in Brief articles must be made publicly available by publishing the data directly in the journal or in an established public repository. Data in Brief has teamed up with The DataVerse Network to create a general database that hosts all types of data. All Data in Brief authors are welcome to upload their datasets to the Data in Brief DataVerse. Not only does DataVerse act as a repository for datasets, but authors are provided with a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for their dataset and a "ready to go" data citation that follows the Force 11 Data citation principles.

Dr. Mercè Crosas, Director of Data Science and the DataVerse Project at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) at Harvard University, explained why access to data is crucial for science:

Access to the data underlying a research study is critical to fully validate and extend the scientific results from that study. A formal, standard data citation grants a persistent link to these data, gives credit to researchers that make their data accessible, and ultimately makes data legitimate products of research.

Elsevier also endorses data citation with the perspective that researchers should receive credit for all of the work they produce.

Elsevier's microarticle initiative

Data in Brief belongs to the new family of Elsevier journals that publish useful data, method descriptions or other valuable research results as short articles in the novel microarticle format:

  • Data in Brief logoGenomics Data, launched in 2013, was designed to complement traditional research papers and accepts descriptions of genomic data for other researchers to reuse or reproduce.
  • MethodsX, launched in February, publishes the small but important customizations researchers make to methodological protocols.
  • Results in Physics recently introduced microarticles to capture "orphaned" elements of physics research.
  • Fungal Genetics and Biology now invites submissions of video microarticles of two kinds: "Video Articles: Review" and "Video Articles: Research."

The goal of the Elsevier's microarticle program is to offer scientists a new and easy channel to publish research output and receive credit for the work that otherwise remains unpublished (including intermediate and null/negative results), as well as to make research results easily findable and citable.


Elsevier Connect Contributor

Dr. Paige Shaklee, PhDPaige Shaklee made her way from studying physics at Colorado School of Mines to nanoscience at TU Delft to biophysics at Leiden University, where she received her PhD. After doing postdoctoral research in Biochemistry at Stanford University, she joined Cell Press in 2011 as the Editor of Trends in Biotechnology. Last year, she joined Elsevier's biochemistry publishing team as a Publisher for the Genomics portfolio. She is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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