The ongoing conversation around research data curation, preservation and publication has become increasingly exciting as various organisations have moved to encourage and in some cases support the sharing and reuse of data in context — an activity my own group at the University of Oxford e-Research Centre has worked hard to support through community building and the collaborative development of appropriate software. Funder and governmental data policies have encouraged the open access movement, data standards and advocacy communities to transform research communication; publishers have of course begun to take a more active role as a result. In a world that is undergoing great change there are only opportunities for those prepared to innovate and take on new challenges. As the Honorary Academic Editor of Scientific Data I appreciate the opportunity Nature Publishing Group has given me to contribute from within.
Much has already been said and written on the need for value-added open access platforms that maximises the discoverability, interpretability and (re)usability of research data in existing journals and services and integrates them, ensuring provenance and quality of the data and delivering mechanisms credit. I agree with all of that, of course. Among the challenges ahead of us, the overheads of data management for such new forms of research communication are the main hurdle. A successful data publication service, of any scale, will require biocuration support; validating data structures, or ensuring richness and accuracy of the descriptions is a different skill set from that of the traditional reviewer. To ensure viable data service, any solutions will also need to take a pragmatic view of how to comply to and benefit from the still-fluid community standards landscape. Scientific Data is no exception. Recognizing and understanding these challenges, however, is half of the solution.
So what do I bring to the table? For the last twelve years, my activities have centered on the capture, management, curation and sharing of data in the life science, environmental and biomedical domains; ensuring value is not lost and facilitating the interpretation and the corroboration of results, making for more efficient practice. Having worked for so long with researchers, bioinformaticians, developers in the public and private sectors, standards-developing communities, as well as funders and recently with other publishers to support good data management practice, the opportunity to be at the heart of Nature Publishing Group’s move into this area has been irresistible.
As Honorary Academic Editor I focus on the strategic development of Scientific Data, the identification, fostering and management of key external community relationships and standards for data reuse. I will provide an outward facing side to accelerate the communication and better meet the needs of the researchers; work closely with our growing Advisory Panel of renown scientists from diverse stakeholder groups; and, continue to stay abreast of the fast-paced fields of data management, standardisation and scholarly communication.
I am confident that over the next years an integrated framework of openly-available digital information and actionable data will coalesce, marking a new era of research communication, driving new knowledge services and discoveries. Scientific Data will be a core part of this ecosystem, complementing other efforts, existing community repositories, emerging and new data platforms. Nature Publishing Group brings real credibility to these novel publication forms and has a history of leading in such matters, but the full potential of ‘data publication’ has yet to be explored. There is a lot to play for over the next few years: for you, for me and everyone.
Honorary Academic Editor