Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Now and Future of Data Publishing - Oxford, 22 May 2013

Book printing in the 15th Century - Wikimedia Commons
Book printing in the 15th century - Wikimedia Commons

St Anne's College, Oxford, was host to a large group of researchers, librarians, data managers and academic publishers for the Now and Future of Data Publishing symposium, funded by the Jisc Managing Research Data programme in partnership with  BioSharingDataONEDryad, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, and  Wiley-Blackwell.

There was a lot of tweeting done over the course of the day (#nfdp13) so I won't repeat it here. (I've made a storify of all my tweets and retweets - unfortunately storify couldn't seem to find the #nfdp13 tweets for other people, so I couldn't add them in.) I was also on two of the panels, so may have missed a few bits of information there - it's hard to tweet when you're sitting on a stage in front of an audience!

A few things struck me about the event:

  • It was really good to see so many enthusiastic people there!
  • The meme on the difference between *p*ublication (i.e. on a blog post) and *P*ublication (i.e. in a peer-reviewed journal) is spreading.
  • I've got a dodgy feeling about the use of "data descriptors" instead of "data papers" in Nature's Scientific Data - it feels like publishing the data in that journal doesn't give it the full recognition it deserves. Also, as a scientist, I want to publish papers, not data descriptors. I can't report a data descriptor to REF, but I can a data paper.
  • It wasn't just me showing cartoons and pictures of cats
  • I could really do with finding the time to sit down and think properly about Parsons' and Fox's excellent article Is Data Publication the Right Metaphor? (and maybe even the time to write a proper response).
  • Only archiving the data that's directly connected with a journal article risks authors only keeping the cherry-picked data they used to justify their conclusions. Also it doesn't cover the vast range of scientific data that is important and irrepreducible, but isn't the direct subject of a paper. Nor does it offer any solution for the problem of negative data. Still, archiving the data used in the paper is a good thing to do - it just shouldn't be the only archiving done.
  • Our current methods of scientific publication have worked for 300 years - that's pretty good going, even if we do need to update them now!
I'll write up my notes for what I said in each of my panels - stay tuned!

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