The breadth and variety of research data
What connects mouse lemur survival rates, Ireland’s geospatial administrative boundaries, two specimens of extinct fossil fishes and antimalarial availability in twelve African and Asian countries?
‘Data’ can be a hard term to define, particularly for researchers considering the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of publishing their research data. Six months ago at Springer Nature we launched our pilot Data Support Services to help researchers better share and archive their data, and the published outputs provide a window into the breadth and variety of data that support our books and journals.
The 50th Data Support Services submission was published last week; a visualisation of the 3D structure of the human ribosome, revealing more than 130 chemical modifications of ribosomal RNA. The related article, published in Nature, describes how the visualisation “paves the way towards understanding the role of epigenetic rRNA modifications in human diseases”.
This data visualisation follows already-published submissions including a spreadsheet of mouse lemur survival rates, malaria survey results across twelve African and Asian countries, geospatial linked data and code describing Ireland’s administrative boundaries and interactive reconstructions of fossil fish specimens, along with the raw CT scan data that underpin them.
With such diverse outputs, the Data Support Services are demonstrating the need for general (and institutional) data repository solutions, and data curation support across a broad range of data types and disciplines. For each dataset, Research Data Editors improve how findable and accessible the data are, creating descriptive metadata, and enhancing the structure and presentation of data records. Working with the repository figshare, each dataset is permanently linked and shared under an open licence, with most file types become instantly previewable in a web browser.
Providing this kind of research data support is part of our response to challenges researchers face in managing and sharing their data. Researchers may also seek support via their institutions, or from expert agencies such as the Digital Curation Centre.
Our pilot project is currently supporting authors of around 80 journals and two conference proceedings. As we look to expand our offering we are not only considering new books and journals to work with but also how we can support researchers’ needs across the data creation, curation and publication life-cycle.