Joanna Ptolomey Giving a fig for negative research?
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Monday, 23rd January 2012 Sign in to MyJinfo or create an account be able to star items Printable version Subscribe via RSS to get updates as soon as Blog items are added

By Joanna Ptolomey


In December 2011 I was reporting from #Online11 where publishers are looking at different ways to add levels of granularity to peer content. Hurrah – but the problem remains in the current publishing model that negative data is very rarely published.

Negative data has merits. Consider too the volume of unused data generated in research projects and its possible uses. The question has been where to put it and how can it be re-used?

Consider FigShare, a product that allows researchers to publish all their research outputs. All file formats can be published and shared. This includes videos and datasets and any other supplemental material.

One of the areas that FigShare hopes to change is the file drawer effect whereby research is conducted but never reported. Even a small number of cases unreported could affect the significance giving a truer outcome. The evidence base could look quite different.

Figshare uses the creative common licensing process to allow sharing of research data but users maintain their ownership. Is it a tool or a really important update for the researcher, research process and research community?  In my opinion probably both and that should go some ways to help avoid duplication and waste in scientific research.

Figshare was launched in early 2011 and was relaunched on 17 January 2012 with some upgraded features. This includes AWS storage, version control and unlimited public storage capacity. Did I mention FigShare is also free?

The Wellcome Trust has always had strong views on opening up access to research data and its wide dissemination for free. It maintains that the current publishing models allow only a fraction of what has been researched to be published and question that it should be opened for mining, scrutinising and re-use.

The push for a more open access and format to scientific research could be giving rise to better conversations and ideas leading to innovation in the scientific community. Work circulates faster, and quicker immediate exchanges could lead to advances with less of reinventing of the wheel or, worse still, the wheels coming off.

For science to drive industry and innovation I am sure we should all give a fig.

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