EucFACE Data Policy

EucFACE Draft Data Policy – v.030516

I. Principles of Data Sharing

EucFACE is dedicated to promote sharing with other researchers to increase knowledge, communication, collaboration and synthesis within the scientific community. This is achieved by having all data sets on-line and available to the community, with all abiding by a common set of ethical guidelines. Such guidelines should promote data sharing, collaboration, intellectual openness and scientific advances while acknowledging, encouraging and respecting those individuals whose time, efforts and intellect designed and created the studies and gathered the data. We also recognise that investigators must have a reasonable opportunity for first use of data they have collected, and receive appropriate scientific recognition for having designed the research and collected data, which may potentially include co-authorship of publications based in whole or part on these data; with specifics, context, common sense, and open dialogue determining the most logical and appropriate course of action in each instance.


Dr Steven Wohl in the crane at EucFACE


II. Code of Ethics for Data Access

As a condition for access to EucFACE data, I agree to the following:

I agree to notify the scientists who designed the study and/or gathered data (“data owners”) if I would like to use those data in any communication (i.e. poster, talk) or publication. These scientists are listed as data owners on each dataset. If they feel they should be acknowledged or offered participation as authors, they will let me know. An agreement on such matters will be reached prior to using the data in a presentation or manuscript. These principles apply to both published and unpublished data. I agree with the common sense approach endorsed by the EucFACE research community (see below).

I understand that the study designers and/or data gatherers (i.e. data owners) intended their data for scientific analyses, papers or publications already in press or that are currently planned or in preparation. Thus they should be given a reasonable timeframe of ≈2-3 years since placing the clean dataset(s) on the EucFACE data base, to prepare papers to be submitted for publication, and such activities have precedence over any that I might wish to prepare. The time frame is given as a rough “window” because, for data collected over time and representing some kind of time sequence, there is no simple rule that dictates an appropriate length of time in which investigators should have sole use of data for publication.

As an example, data from years 1 and 2 of a 6-year period, to be used in a paper planned to report on six-year results, clearly would have a different “reasonable” time frame for “data holding” than when these data were planned to be used in a paper reporting on 2-year results. The time frame discussed in this paragraph does not supersede or negate the intent of the previous paragraph; instead, it further protects the intellectual property (I.P.) rights of the EucFACE researchers and establishes a time frame during which certain external community use of particular EucFACE data may not be permitted.

I agree to consult and seek the opinions of the researchers involved in the design of a study and the collection of the data (i.e. data owners) as I analyze the data. While substantial efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of data and documentation, complete accuracy of the data sets cannot be guaranteed without conferring with those who originally collected the data. I understand that all data are made available "as is" and I will refer to the protocols followed in collecting the data to reduce the chance of errors in data and errors of interpretation.

Common Sense Approach to Authorship

The intent of this policy is to promote collaboration and encourage broad use of EucFACE data, while ensuring that intellectual property rights of EucFACE researchers are recognized and protected. To help illustrate a common sense approach to authorship, we give two “book-end” examples.

In the first, imagine a researcher Q from outside HIE who wants to do a meta-analysis of elevated CO2 effects on property X, and wishes to use three published data points from EucFACE along with 997 data points from 49 other elevated CO2 experiments. Unless Q for some reason invites all contributors to be co-authors, here is a case where co-authorship by any EucFACE researcher is not warranted, as he/she has already published the data and the EucFACE data represent a tiny fraction of the data used in the analyses. In the second, imagine researcher R plans a meta-analysis of elevated CO2 effects on property Y, and wishes to use 177 published data points from EucFACE along with 223 data points from 3 other elevated CO2 experiments.

In this example, researcher B, who was responsible (i.e. data owner or owners) for the collection of the 177 data points from EucFACE should be offered co-authorship (even though the data were published) because these data represent a considerable fraction of all data being used in the analysis. In this case, if another EucFACE researcher had also substantially contributed to this work, she/he might also warrant possible co-authorship, given the strong EucFACE footprint on the work to be done.

Note that if an offer of co-authorship is accepted, having provided access to archived samples or data is insufficient contribution to qualify for co-authorship. Significant participation in data analyses, interpretation, and/or writing are also essential to warrant co-authorship. Between these two extremes is an enormous spectrum of possibilities. Common sense suggests that contributing one of ten or fifteen (or fewer) data sets used in a synthesis might warrant serious consideration of possible co-authorship, whereas contributing one of forty or fifty might not. We recognize these are arbitrary distinctions, but we want to emphasize, as done by Kueffer et al. 2011, that in this age of data accessibility, there must be some incentive for data collectors, or logic would dictate that we all choose the role of data user.

Kueffer, C, Ü Niinemets, RE Drenovsky, J Kattge, P Milberg, H Poorter, PB Reich, C Werner, M Westoby, IJ Wright. 2011. Fame, glory and neglect in meta-analyses. Trends Ecol and Evol 26:494-495.

III. Researcher Responsibilities

Data that are collected at EucFACE should be promptly submitted (i.e. shared) within a reasonable amount of time. Data will be contributed to the HIE data management system (“HIEv”; https://hiev.westernsydney.edu.au/ ). Sampling/measurement protocols and metadata must be prepared and made available alongside the datasets. The data base will have two classes of data sets: one in “process” where posting of data largely serves as a mandatory back-up to minimize possibility of data losses; and a second for mandatory “clean” data sets (post error-checking, and post-processing where required). The “reasonable” time frame for these vary considerably.

For the first, all data electronically compiled should be near-instantaneously placed on the EucFACE data base; all other data as soon as they are digitized electronically. For the “clean” data sets, a reasonable time is at the time when researchers are beginning, or could begin, preliminary steps in formal analyses (as opposed to exploratory analyses of raw results).

Samples collected during the course of a research project should be curated in a manner that preserves the quality and integrity of the samples. Samples could include, but are not limited to plant, and soil samples, gases, liquids, insects, DNA, RNA, digital images, etc. Major HIE activities within EucFACE will establish and curate sample archives. The EucFACE data base will also include a sample data base, and information relevant to this should also be placed on the data base as soon as samples are obtained. Sharing of valuable sample material is highly encouraged and can be facilitated by providing metadata.

While use and sharing of sample material is encouraged, sample material cannot be shared with any other investigator or used for any other purpose until an approved project is in effect. This is necessary to protect the integrity of sample archive, promote data sharing of any additional information that may be generated through use of samples, maintain intellectual openness, and ensure coordinated collaboration among investigators.