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Announcing New Research Data Publishing Ethics Resources- Policy Templates for Repos & Publishers


By Iratxe Puebla & Daniella Lowenberg (WG Co-Chairs)

Since early 2021, the FORCE11 Research Data Publication Ethics Working Group has been working to develop ethics standards and best practice recommendations for data publications. The Working Group is a collaboration with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and its strength comes from the collective expertise of the over 80 members representing institutions, editors, publishers and data repositories.

A priority for the Working Group has been to develop resources that would support the different stakeholders in data publication to responsibly handle the different situations they may encounter. As an initial step, we explored the types of concerns that can arise in the context of data publication and categorized them into four areas: Authorship & Contribution Conflicts, Legal & Regulatory Restrictions, Rigor, Risk. We developed detailed recommendations for each category which we shared with the community last September.

The recommendations were an important milestone for the Working Group, but we recognized that additional resources were needed to support data publishers. Feedback from group members highlighted the need for policy templates for repositories and publishers related to ethical issues in research data publication. Consistent and visible policies at publishers and data repositories will signal their commitment for a responsible handling of data publication, provide clear expectations for how the data publisher may act in response to concerns when they arise, and importantly can also serve as an important tool for educating researchers on what the expectations are for publishing data ethically.

We are pleased to share the release of two policy templates, one for use by data repositories, and another aimed at publishers now available: “Joint FORCE11 & COPE Research Data Publishing Ethics Working Group Policy Templates” 

We recognize that publishers will have a range of editorial policies and that data repositories may also have public terms of use for contributors. Our policy templates are tightly focused on ethical aspects of data publication, highlighting specific aspects within the Working Group recommendations that we felt is relevant to articulate publicly as part of the data publisher’s policies. With that in mind, the text in the templates is aimed to add to and complement existing policies at both publishers and data repositories.

We also recognize that some publishers and data repositories may wish to add additional information beyond items listed in the policy templates, but we wanted to be mindful of providing a resource anchored on ethical items and applicable across organizations, independent of their frameworks. We welcome feedback on these templates and hope they will prove useful for both publishers and data repositories as they build their frameworks and policies around ethical aspects of data publication.

We are continuing our efforts to develop practical resources. We are currently in late stages of developing flowcharts for the handling of cases in different categories, to reflect the follow up steps outlined in the recommendations. We look forward to iterating on community needs and sharing these additional resources with the community in the coming months.

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