Stronger data policies, more data sharing: policy change at Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology

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The Editorial team of Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology and the Springer Nature Research Data team are delighted to report the implementation of a new research data sharing policy at Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, making it the first Springer journal to require that all published authors share their research data openly in appropriate data repositories. This reflects mounting evidence that the implementation of strong data policies positively impacts on authors data sharing practices,* while authors reap the benefits including the potential for increased citations.** 

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, which published its first volume in 1976, has established itself as a leading journal for publications on behavioural research. Publishing reviews, original research, methods and commentaries, the journal highlights quantitative empirical and theoretical studies in the analysis in animal behaviour at the level of the individual, group, population, community and species.The journal is ranked by Clarivate in the top two quartiles for behavioural science and ecology, and in the first quartile for zoology, and is committed to continue demonstrating a high level of quality and innovation. 

Since 2016, the Research Data team have been rolling out standardised research data policies across Springer Nature journals. Acknowledging differences in disciplinary data sharing at this time, and the readiness of authors to share their research data openly, we provided four policy options. These policies range from recommending data sharing, to requiring the inclusion of data availability statements, to requiring data deposit and data peer review. The policy selected by Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology represents the most stringent possible research data policy, requiring open sharing of research data, the citation of data in reference lists, and assessment of datasets by peer reviewers. 

The implementation of this policy aligns the journal with a small number of Springer Nature journals with a similarly strong commitment to data sharing and reuse, openness, and transparency. The Research Data team will continue to support and encourage journals to implement data policies which are appropriate for their authors, and are currently working to align more journals with the TOP Guidelines, and participating in the STM Association’s Research Data Year.

*https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.12-218164

**https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230416

Image by Barth Bailey on Unsplash.

Dr. Rebecca Grant

Ex Springer Nature Staff Member, Springer Nature

I am Springer Nature's Research Data Manager, where I develop products and services to support data management and sharing, including the implementation of standard research data policies across Springer Nature journals. I lead the development of research data training as part of Nature Research Academies, and I am a qualified data trainer certified by the Open Data Institute. My doctoral thesis explored the connections between archival theory and research data management practice.