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Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities of Authorship in the Life Sciences
would be shown in the key figures of a publication, if space permitted. For example, in a paper announcing the sequencing of an entire genome, the sequence would be a central aspect of the paper. In other cases, the data are integral to the findings being reported, that is, necessary to support the major claims of the paper and essential to enable a knowledgeable peer to reproduce and verify the results. In still other cases, the data or a database provides background to a publication—that is, not integral to the findings or conclusions being presented, but without which the findings or conclusions could not have been derived. Background information would not be essential for reproducing, verifying, or building on the claims in the paper; it might be considered as background, for instance, because obvious alternative methods or sources of data could be substituted. A corollary to the uniform principle for sharing integral data and materials expeditiously (UPSIDE), therefore, is the principle that all information that is either central or integral to the paper should be made available in a manner that enables its use for replication, verification, and furtherance of the published claims.
The collection and compilation of large and complex assemblages of data—such as gene sequences, microarray data, and images—are increasing in the life sciences. These datasets or databases have become an important resource in many disciplines. That such large datasets cannot be fitted into the printed version of a paper has led to ambiguity about what an author must provide to readers of the journal.
If a large dataset or database is itself the result being reported in a scientific publication or is integral to the paper, it would be appropriate, but is often impractical, to provide all the data in the paper itself. The data might reasonably be provided on-line but should be available on the same basis as though they were in the printed publication (through a direct and open-access link from the paper published on-line). This principle is an extension of UPSIDE.
If the complete dataset or database was used in a publication but is not integral to the conclusions presented, the authors are free to hold the broader data or database as closely as they wish. In this setting, what