Journal and publisher policies

Like funders, publishers and journals are increasingly expecting researchers to make data associated with scientific publications available to others.

Different levels of data availability policy

Current journal data availability policies range from mere encouragements to share data (and related research materials) that underpin publications, to hard mandates to do so.

TOP guidelines

The Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines identify four levels of 'Data Transparency' policy that journals can implement (with only the Levels 1 to 3 considered as TOP-compliant):

Level 0 - Encourage

The journal encourages data sharing, or says nothing.

Level 1 - Disclose

Articles must state whether data are available, and, if so, where to access them.

Level 2 - Require

Data must be posted to a trusted repository. Exceptions must be identified at article submission. 

Level 3 - Verify

Data must be posted to a trusted repository, and reported analyses will be reproduced independently before publication.

A growing number of journals is adopting the TOP guidelines, selecting a level of implementation appropriate for their research domain or community.

Publisher frameworks

Several large publishers have implemented similar frameworks of tiered data availability policies for their journals, including:  

The specific requirements regarding data availability can usually be found on a journal's website (e.g. in the editorial policies or instructions for authors).

Data availability statement

Depending on the policy in place, journals may ask authors to provide a data availability statement for inclusion in the published article.

Such a statement indicates where/how data can be accessed, or if they cannot be made available, why that is the case (e.g. ethical or legal reasons).

Data repository recommendations

Journals may provide a list of mandatory or recommended data repositories for depositing various types of datasets. Some even integrate data submission to a specific repository into their manuscript submission system.

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