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Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities of Authorship in the Life Sciences
Responsibilities of Authorship in the Biological Sciences, whose members were chosen from academe and the commercial sector for their expertise in the life sciences and medicine, and their experience with issues related to scientific publishing, databases, software, intellectual property rights, and technology transfer. The committee was given the following charge:
To conduct a study to evaluate the responsibilities of authors of scientific papers in the life sciences to share data and materials referenced in their publications. The study will examine requirements imposed on authors by journals, identify common practices in the community, and explore whether a single set of accepted standards for sharing exists. The study will also explore whether more appropriate standards should be developed, including what principles should underlie them and what rationale there might be for allowing exceptions to them.
To meet its charge and obtain a variety of perspectives on these issues, the committee organized a workshop, “Community Standards for Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials,” that was held on February 25, 2002 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. The participants included distinguished members of the life-sciences community—researchers and administrators from universities, federal agencies, and private industry; scientific-journal editors; and members of the legal and university technology-transfer communities. Evaluation of the issues was stimulated by the group’s analysis of several hypothetical situations (attached in an appendix to the full report) that captured many of the difficult issues facing the community.
During the workshop, discussions about which data and materials related to a publication an author ought to provide and the precise manner in which they should be shared with others revealed how important those requirements are to the scientific community. Much of the analysis that took place in working groups was an effort to discern how an author (with individual competitive, commercial, or other interests) could, by some minimum effort, meet the collective needs of the commu-