The Data Curation Network has co-signed a statement by COAR that provided a response to “Data Repository Selection: Criteria that Matter,” a set of criteria or features proposed by a group of journals, journal publishers and scholarly communication organisations.
We recognize that determining or recommending where data should be archived is a challenge for researchers, librarians, publishers, and others in the scholarly communications ecosystem, and we appreciate the author’s efforts to establish a mechanism in which to do this. But, we ultimately feel that the set of criteria presented oversimplifies the decision making process for publishing and archiving research data.
We have noted that criteria or features set forth by this group consisting primarily of publishers has excluded institutional repositories within its scope, thereby diminishing a free and open alternative available for our research communities to publish their data. This criteria or selection of features does not acknowledge that many institutions have data policies and infrastructure for sharing data. This exclusion could potentially be a conflict with institutional data policies and used to indicate that institutional repositories are not appropriate archives for research data, or imply they are not being held to the same standards as general or discipline-specific repositories.
We agree with COAR that “All of these elements are important in their own right, and each researcher will need to make a choice of how to balance them according to their own circumstances based on funder requirements, priorities, and needs – this should not be determined by the publisher.” A data citation (with a persistent URL) is the best way to demonstrate data sharing and beyond that, journal data sharing policies should be as simple as possible.
We agree with COAR that “The criteria outlined in Data Repository Selection: Criteria that Matter are also too narrowly conceived and do not reflect the range of issues that should be taken into consideration when making decisions about where to deposit data.” There are many factors librarians and others consider when recommending appropriate data repository locations (file size, format, discipline, sustainability, institutional affiliation, institutional data sharing policies, etc.), which are not contextualized or included in these criteria. A few scholarly societies have published data repository decision workflows that include this sort of context (for example: https://zenodo.org/record/1475430#.X_TM5GRueWC). And as a consortium of several institutional data repositories, the DCN specifically notes the importance of local data stewardship options and recommends institutional data repositories be a recognized and encouraged data sharing option.
We agree with COAR that “Our collective goal should be to develop a sustainable, distributed, and interoperable repository network that can support researchers around the world in managing and sharing their data. To achieve this, we need to work with and strengthen existing services, not disqualify them.” The Data Curation Network is a good example of how data curators, regardless of platform or local workflow, can come together to learn and support our collective efforts to make open data sharing better.