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Nature's new policy mandates data-availability statements

Nature's new policy mandates data-availability statements

In a move to reinforce its long standing support towards data sharing, Nature has announced a new policy mandating data-availability statements. From this month onwards, all papers accepted for publication in Nature and 12 other Nature titles will be required to provide a statement reporting whether and how the underlying data in the study can be accessed.

Authors will need to provide information about the availability of the ‘minimal data set’ required to interpret, replicate, and build on the results reported in the study. These include details of publicly archived data sets that have been used or generated during the study. In exceptional cases where the data cannot be made available due to privacy issues or third party control, the data statement must clarify this. The new policy also encourages the practice of citing data sets in the reference list, just as published papers are cited, and data sets with Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are preferred. 

The announcement came after a successful trial of the policy at five Nature journals — Nature Cell BiologyNature CommunicationsNature GeoscienceNature Neuroscience and Nature Physics — earlier this year. It is now expected to be adopted by all Nature journals by early 2017. With the entire science community gradually embracing data sharing, this policy could be an effective way of ensuring compliance to public data archiving and data sharing mandates. 

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