Title

Researcher Perspectives on Publication and Peer Review of Data

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date

2-23-2015

Abstract

Data “publication” seeks to appropriate the prestige of authorship in the peer-reviewed literature to reward researchers who create useful and well-documented datasets. The scholarly communication community has embraced data publication as an incentive to document and share data. But, numerous new and ongoing experiments in implementation have not yet resolved what a data publication should be, when data should be peer-reviewed, or how data peer review should work. While researchers have been surveyed extensively regarding data management and sharing, their perceptions and expectations of data publication are largely unknown. To bring this important yet neglected perspective into the conversation, we surveyed ~ 250 researchers across the sciences and social sciences– asking what expectations“data publication” raises and what features would be useful to evaluate the trustworthiness, evaluate the impact, and enhance the prestige of a data publication. We found that researcher expectations of data publication center on availability, generally through an open database or repository. Few respondents expected published data to be peer-reviewed, but peer-reviewed data enjoyed much greater trust and prestige. The importance of adequate metadata was acknowledged, in that almost all respondents expected data peer review to include evaluation of the data’s documentation. Formal citation in the reference list was affirmed by most respondents as the proper way to credit dataset creators. Citation count was viewed as the most useful measure of impact, but download count was seen as nearly as valuable. These results offer practical guidance for data publishers seeking to meet researcher expectations and enhance the value of published data.