Get credit for your data – BMC Research Notes launches data notes

Earlier this year BMC Research Notes was re-structured with a focus on short note articles. Now we are launching data notes, short data descriptors that aim to increase data visibility and support the reuse and sharing of valuable research data.

Data is becoming increasingly more important. Researchers tell us they are motivated to share data to progress research, to receive more credit and visibility for their work and to comply with funder policies. Springer Nature’s wider data plan aims to develop products and services to help researchers make their data FAIRer (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable).

Earlier in the year we have introduced our pilot Data Support Services which help authors comply with funder and journal policies, prepare their data for deposition in a repository and enhance their peer-reviewed publications. The data is stored in the Springer Nature portal in the Figshare repository and DOIs are provided as unique persistent links to dataset(s) to enable citation.

These services to researchers build on the expertise in the Scientific Data team, which provides a publication venue for highly structured and curated data descriptors of scientifically valuable research. Now we are launching the next puzzle piece that we think will help researchers with making the most of their data with a fast-turnaround, short article type – the data note.

Data note at BMC Research Notes

Earlier this year, BMC Research Notes was re-structured with a focus on short note articles. We introduced research note as an article type to provide a vehicle for a wide variety of short communications such as confirmatory results, single observations and null results among others where authors have analyzed data, present incremental or individual results and briefly discuss these – short, concise and to the point.

Some might recall that BMC Research Notes used to consider data notes in the past. We feel now is the time to bring data notes back which apart from the name has little in common with its earlier version. We have given it a complete facelift and considerably changed the structure to make it fit for the data description needs of the scientific community. BMC Research Notes aims to shine a light on Dark data and data notes are an important part of that mission.

What is a data note?

Data notes are data descriptors – no analysis or interpretation – that aim to increase data visibility and support the reuse of valuable research data.

Data notes are data descriptors – no analysis or interpretation – that aim to increase data visibility and support the reuse of valuable research data. They are short (1,000 words) and therefore quick and easy to write, undergo peer review by an editorial board member and are fully citable through a DOI.

Data notes are structured in three main sections – Objective, Data description and Limitation. In Objective, a rationale is provided: Where did the data come from? Why was it collected? What can it be used for? The Data description section is the core of the data note which describes the data including key elements of the methodology. Finally, we ask authors to include a Limitation section because we believe all sound data is valuable and deserve publication as long as there is transparency about possible shortcomings.

There are three key features that we feel make this article type stand out and provide value to the scientific community:

  • Data deposited in Springer Nature’s Figshare portal will be curated by our Research Data team to enhance the metadata which improves discoverability and encourage reuse.
  • Full and detailed methodology will be uploaded together with the data allowing readers to reproduce the data while keeping the actual data note short and concise to make it quick and easy to digest.
  • The data note will feature a summary table of all data files allowing readers a one-look overview of the data including information on file format, license and direct links to the publicly available data.

Why publish a data note?

We are launching data notes to make forgotten data available. They are quick and easy to write and authors can make their unused data widely available by publishing in an international, peer-reviewed open access journal. This means a data note provides a citable publication and credits authors for good data practice. Research published in Digital Science’s State of Open Data report found that 68% of researchers value a data citation as much as a citation to an article, while 10% value data citation more than citation to an article.

We believe this article type appeals to authors who are holding on to data that they have not yet turned into a publication. Perhaps the outcome was unexpected or there was never enough time to analyze it. Others might want to make the electronic supplementary material of their published paper more discoverable. A data note could be the solution.

Data is becoming increasingly more important and most researchers will have data that they do not think much about, but it might be of immense value to others – so let’s share it!


Find out more about data notes here.

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