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What does a Data paper look like?

June 29, 2012

Making datasets discoverable through the metadatabase and publishing them on-line is one of the main aims of the BioFresh project. Pensoft Publishers recently started calling for data papers based on primary biodiversity datasets published to GBIF (Penev et al. 2011). BioFresh partners have several in preparation and the practice of publishing data papers seems set to become normal practice.

So what is a ‘metadata paper’ or ‘database paper’? Well as the terms suggest it is a paper that focuses on the description of a database. Such papers could be conceived as either a pure description of the dataset for publication in a specialized journal or as a more extensive scientific article giving a broader insight in the database which might be targeted at a regular scientific journal. A “pure” data paper might be limited to an abstract published in a scientific journal together with descriptive and technical metadata. In such cases the actual data files would be made available on-line, as is the case of the papers in the Ecological Society of America’s Ecological archive, or via data portals such as GBIF. However, it is expected that in addition to describing the data content, data papers will include sections summarizing the history of the data set (e.g. original purpose, mode and time of generation, funding body etc.) and its perceived value and usefulness to scientific research (fundamental and/or applied). (see two examples below).

If you want to get into data publishing, and we encourage you to do so, nice examples of data papers are by Jones et al (2009) on mammals and Brose etal (2005) on body sizes. Pensoft Publishing has produced useful data publishing policies and guidelines and GBIFs integrated publishing tool (IPT) offers a facility to generate a draft paper outline containing the metadata information of the dataset. BioFresh is currently adding similar export functions to the BioFresh metadatabase.

Example Data Papers
Jones et al. (2009). PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. (W. K. Michener, Ed.) Ecology, Ecological Archives E090-184, 90(9), 2648–2648. Ecological Society of America.
Brose et al. (2005). Body sizes of consumers and their resources. Ecology 86:2545.
Penev, L., Mietchen, D., Chavan, V., & Hagedorn, G. (2011). Pensoft Data Publishing Policies

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 4, 2012 06:33

    Here are a few more examples of published data papers that might help to illustrate the idea:

    Cerretti P, Tschorsnig H-P, Lopresti M, Di Giovanni F (2012) MOSCHweb — a matrix-based
    interactive key to the genera of the Palaearctic Tachinidae (Insecta, Diptera). ZooKeys
    205: 5–18. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.205.3409

    Narwade S, Kalra M, Jagdish R, Varier D, Satpute S, Khan N, Talukdar G, Mathur V, Vasudevan K, Pundir D, Chavan V, Sood R (2011) Literature based species occurrence data of birds of northeast India. ZooKeys 150: 407–417. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.150.2002

    Pierrat B, Saucède T, Festeau A, David B (2012) Antarctic, Sub-Antarctic and cold temperate echinoid database. ZooKeys 204: 47–52. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.204.3134

    Schindel DE, Stoeckle MY, Milensky C, Trizna M, Schmidt B, Gebhard C, Graves G
    (2011) Project description: DNA barcodes of bird species in the National Museum of
    Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, USA. ZooKeys 152: 87–92. doi: 10.3897/
    zookeys.152.2473

    Van Landuyt W, Vanhecke L, Brosens D (2012) Florabank1: a grid-based database on vascularplant distribution in the northern part of Belgium (Flanders and the Brussels Capital
    region). PhytoKeys 12: 59–67. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.12.2849

    Lyubomir Penev

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