LabArchives and the BioMed Central Research Awards

Guest blog post by Earl Beutler, President and CEO of LabArchives, sponsors of BioMed Central’s Open Data Award. This has also been posted to LabArchives’ Blog.

I have just returned from London where, among other things, I was proud to represent LabArchives in presenting the BioMed Central “Open Data Award” that was sponsored by our organization. At the well attended 6th Annual event, BioMed Central’s Research Awards celebrated excellence in scientific research made freely available through open access publishing within their portfolio of over 200 journals and are much like the “Academy Awards” for science.

We are very proud to be sponsoring the Open Data Award this year and are also very excited about our recently announced partnership with BioMed Central. As you may know, LabArchives offers a web-based solution for the problem of storing, organizing, sharing and publishing scientific data. Investigators who use LabArchives are able to automatically share data sets with individuals or with the public at large and can easily assign a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to these data.

BioMed Central authors can obtain a complimentary subscription to LabArchives that enables them to store up to 100 MB of data, a portion or all of which can be published in connection with, or separately from, a journal article.

As the scientific community continues to embrace the concept of open data, it is important that the process of sharing information be as simple and seamless as possible. At LabArchives, we are dedicated to creating easy-to-use and affordable products to bring this important goal to fruition.

The Open Data Award seeks to recognize researchers who have published in BioMed Central journals and have demonstrated leadership in the sharing, standardization, publication, or re-use of biomedical research data. This year we genuinely had the strongest shortlist yet, with excellent nominees from fields as diverse as microbiology, health geographics, rheumatology, clinical medicine, genomics and chemistry.

This year, the winning paper was “The International Stroke Trial database” by Peter AG Sandercock, Maciej Niewada, Anna Członkowska, and the International Stroke Trial Collaborative Group, published in the journal, Trials.

Peter Sandercock and colleagues published “The International Stroke Trial database” paper and data set in the journal Trials with the primary purpose of making individual patient data from the International Stroke Trial (IST) available for public use. With more than 19,000 patients this was one of the largest randomized trials ever conducted in acute stroke. The results of the International Stroke Trial were first published in the Lancet in 1997 but the data, which are highly valuable for secondary research, were not publicly available until this article was published, in April 2011.

Sharing and publishing clinical trial data is much needed to improve the reliability and efficiency of health research but remains very uncommon, particularly on such a large scale. Included with the paper was a spreadsheet with the anonymized data from the many patients in the trial. As well as being transparent the authors have been responsible and adhered to available best practice guidelines on protecting anonymity. The paper got the judges’ attention right from the start of and the decision was, remarkably and uniquely for this award, unanimous.

The authors should be commended for their efforts to make such a large amount of data available as data sharing on this scale in clinical medicine shows real leadership. The background care patients received in the nineties is representative of stroke trials currently ongoing in developing countries making the data particularly helpful for planning new trials in these areas – which face a future epidemic of non-communicable diseases such as stroke.

In addition to the well-deserved recognition for their contribution, the authors receive a cash award which we hope will serve as a small token of the appreciation from the publishing and scientific communities, as well as an additional incentive for other scientists to publish important data that may more quickly advance the progress of science in ending disease and improving our understanding of the world around us.

LabArchives is very proud to be participating in these awards, and looks forward to continuing our involvement for many years to come.  I would like to personally thank the members of the BioMed Central team who organized and attended the Awards and created a truly enjoyable evening for me personally as well as everyone in attendance.

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