Open Data: Deposit Experience of an Emory Researcher

Image by Dryad,

Image by Dryad,

By Jennifer Doty, Data Management Specialist, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship

With Open Access Week 2013 well under way, we turn our attention to the related issue of “open data”–specifically the policies and procedures emerging in the research and publishing realms to make data underlying journal articles more readily available and accessible for future researchers.

To put it in a relevant context, this post features the experience of an Emory researcher who has deposited data with an open data repository.

Balint Kacsoh, now pursuing his PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology at Dartmouth College, recently published findings from research conducted while he was a member of Prof. Todd Schlenke’s lab in the Biology Department at Emory. Their article in Science, which discusses how fruit flies medicate their offspring after seeing wasps, was published with the usual accompaniment of supplemental materials–figures and tables supporting the researchers’ conclusions. However, in compliance with the journal’s policy for making data available, Kacsoh and his collaborators deposited their dataset with the Dryad Digital Repository.

When the Schlenke lab embarked on the data collection for this project, Kacsoh says, “besides entering the data into the computer, there was no plan in place to put the data online, simply because we just had not thought about it and most papers do not do this.” Upon acceptance of their article in Science, they communicated with the editors and followed their recommendation to deposit with Dryad, a growing digital repository of biological and ecological data, which Kacsoh says an increasing number of scholars are utilizing for access to the underlying datasets of their research.

Kacsoh states the experience of depositing with Dryad was quite straightforward, with no problems. As for preparing the dataset for deposit, Kacsoh said, “it would be good to have a more standardized form of data preparation–in submitting such data, it is difficult to know if everyone will easily be able to understand it, so a more universal system would be very helpful.”

Emory researchers looking for assistance identifying their data repository options, or guidance with preparing datasets for deposit, can contact Jennifer Doty, data management specialist with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship in Woodruff Library.