The availability of data, its rapid and comprehensive dissemination, is central to efficient scientific research. Transparency and reproducibility all suffer when the provision of scientific data is restricted, a problem which is particularly vexing as we enter the era of ‘big data’ studies. One factor hindering data dissemination is the fact that researchers are rarely given proper credit for making their data available in the same way they are when publishing an article. This is furthermore not helped by the lack of a universally recognised tagging system for publishers to link individual authors to their deposited data. Data sets are therefore prevented from being cited in the same way as a published article, disincentivizing researchers from committing the time and effort needed to make their data publicly available.
A new correspondence article by GigaScience Editor Scott Edmunds published in BMC Research Notes discusses how the employment of ‘Digital Object Identifiers’ can help overcome this problem. A ‘Digital Object Identifier’ or DOI is a line of code used to make an electronic object such as a paper or a dataset permanently identifiable, allowing for a much more lasting form of linking than simply referring to its URL. This form of continual linking from a single access point allows data sets to be cited and referenced in journal articles in the same way as an ordinary research article.
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