(Note: PLOS supports and celebrates today’s Data Innovation Day, which is organized by the Center for Data Innovation, a new nonprofit, non-partisan public policy think tank focusing on data issues).
PLOS appreciated the community input on its Data Policy during the comment period. The feedback identified the following points for clarification and required no policy changes to the December 12, 2013 Data Policy proposal.
One point for clarification concerns the topic of “data available on request.” PLOS strongly believes that data should be freely available, without having to go through a gatekeeper, but it recognizes that, in some instances, patient privacy or other concerns may preclude making data freely available to all. If ethical barriers prevent complete data release, authors should adhere to the guidelines noted in the Data Policy. For example, by anonymizing data if possible and, if it is not, PLOS requires authors to identify an ethics or data access committee (or equivalent group) that can provide access. In recognition of the fact that such committees may not already exist, PLOS asks authors to note details of the situation upon journal submission. PLOS continues to investigate potential solutions to this issue and, until a standard course of action is determined, it will work individually with authors for whom this presents a challenge.
A second point to clarify is that the Data Policy states the “minimal dataset” consists “of the dataset used to reach the conclusions drawn in the manuscript with related metadata and methods, and any additional data required to replicate the reported study findings in their entirety.” This does not mean that authors must submit all data collected as part of the research, but that they must provide the data that are relevant to the specific analyses presented in the paper.
The final policy will be published in time for implementation on March 1, 2014. PLOS is developing an FAQ, and we encourage authors to email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or the individual journals.