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Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities of Authorship in the Life Sciences
the key issues facing the life-sciences community with regard to sharing of publication-related data and materials. The rest of this chapter provides background on reasons for addressing these issues. Chapter 2 examines the value of publishing scientific findings and the principles related to the publication of scientific findings. Sharing of data and software and of materials related to publication are treated in Chapters 3 and 4, respectively, and Chapter 5 reviews the various arguments advanced regarding the differing interpretations and consequences of existing standards. Chapter 6 addresses compliance with appropriate community standards, including ways to encourage compliance and to handle cases of noncompliance; it also addresses the challenge of forging community standards that have the robustness and flexibility needed to accommodate the rapid change in life-sciences research that is expected to continue.
The scope of the committee’s study was restricted to issues that begin to arise when a paper is submitted for publication. The report therefore does not address questions about the sharing of data that are not being published or unrefereed preliminary or raw data posted on public Web sites before formal peer-reviewed publication. The report also does not address the requirements of the Shelby Amendment of the Freedom of Information Act. As emphasized at the workshop by committee chair Thomas Cech, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the purpose of the workshop was to address “the responsibility of authors with respect to sharing publication-related data and materials.”
While the principles and standards identified in this report have broad applicability to various disciplines within the life sciences, the committee did not conduct a comprehensive examination of practices for sharing of data and materials specific to every discipline. Such practices are tailored to the types of data and material in use and by the unique circumstances of the research. For example, in systematic and evolutionary biology, the long established and only acceptable practice for sharing publication-related voucher specimens is to deposit them in public or accessible repositories, often museums, where they are available to everyone. In microbiology, on the other hand, the use of national