MER has published its new data policy (below) and it is likely that all other journals in which we publish will adopt a similar policy. While the policy is mandatory for MER from Jan 2011, that probably means that it is effectively mandatory almost immediately for new submissions. I suggest that as a lab we should adopt this policy immediately, irrespective of the target journal, as it is both the right thing to do and will give us some useful experience with any glitches before the policy becomes more general. It would be useful to discuss further at a forthcoming lab meeting.
Given the increasing concerns regarding the availability and preservation of data from ecological and evolutionary studies, most of the leading journals in ecology and evolution will soon be introducing a new data archiving policy (Whitlock et al. 2010). Our current archiving policy applies only to sequence data, which must be made available on GenBank or another public database. However, the new policy will be applicable to all data supporting results in papers published in Molecular Ecology Resources. A more lengthy rationale for the policy can be found in Whitlock et al. (2010).
Our policy will read as follows:
Molecular Ecology Resources expects, as a condition for publication, that data supporting the results in the paper should be archived in an appropriate public archive, such as GenBank, Gene Expression Omnibus, TreeBASE, Dryad, or the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity. Data are important products of the scientific enterprise, and they should be preserved and usable for decades in the future. Authors may elect to have the data publicly available at time of publication, or, if the technology of the archive allows, may opt to embargo access to the data for a period up to a year after publication. Exceptions may be granted at the discretion of the editor, especially for sensitive information such as human subject data or the location of endangered species.
Our policy will not go into force until January 2011, but in the meantime, we encourage authors to submit their data to the relevant repositories. Please note that submission of primer sequences and data to the Molecular Ecology Resources database will continue to be a condition of publication for PGR Notes. DNA sequence data should also continue to be archived in GenBank or another public archive. Expression data should be submitted to the Gene Expression Omnibus or an equivalent database, whereas phylogenetic trees should be submitted to TreeBASE. More idiosyncratic data, such as microsatellite allele frequency data from field studies, can be archived in a more flexible digital data library such as the U.S. National Science Foundation-sponsored Dryad archive at http://datadryad.org <http://datadryad.org/>.
Once the policy is in force, authors will be expected to archive the data supporting their results and conclusions, along with sufficient details so that a third party can interpret them correctly. As discussed by Whitlock et al. (2010), this will likely ‘require a short additional text document, with details specifying the meaning of each column in the data set. The preparation of such shareable data sets will be easiest if these files are prepared as part of the data analysis phase of the preparation of the paper, rather than after acceptance of a manuscript.”