Sebastian Lequime, Data Editor at JEB, Virologist and Assistant Professor at University of Groningen
I joined the editorial team at JEB as “Data Editor” in May 2022. I wanted to join JEB and help shape its open data policies because I genuinely believe Open Data can enhance the overall scientific quality of our field. Despite the obvious advantages, to those implementing Open Data policies by archiving their information, such policies may sometimes seem like a hassle with little reward. As a data generator and a data re-user, I certainly have felt the pain, but I also highly value this commitment and try my best to help my team, collaborators, and the scientific community at large to embrace Open Data and Open Science in general. My role at JEB will be to continue this effort.
From mid-2020, like several other journals, the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (JEB) has mandated the deposition of underlying data and code in third-party repositories alongside the publication of manuscripts. However, an inspection of author data archives, carried out by Bob Montgomerie (Data Editor of fellow society journal American Naturalist)has shown that data archives are not always as useful as they could be. Some contain incomplete data and lack the meta-information critical to the reusability of the archive. At JEB, we believe that these issues must be addressed across the field and, as the society journal of ESEB, we want to help our community play a leading role in Open Science practices.
The JEB blog now provides extensive guidance—written as a collaborative project across journals—to help authors prepare their archives. We are confident that our adhesion to Open Science principles, supported by ESEB and its members, promotes the appropriate interpretation of results, checking of validity, future data synthesis, replication, and the use of data as a teaching tool for students learning to do analyses themselves.
As the new Data Editor at JEB, I will be leading the process of assessing and providing feedback on archives associated with accepted articles. We will thoroughly check the archives associated with all accepted manuscripts, starting 1st July 2022. It will be my role to assist authors in making their data archives as useful and reusable as possible. We hope that our authorship will appreciate this support as a way to provide longevity and additional value to their work.
When a manuscript is accepted, my first task will be to identify data generated and used in the manuscript and compare it to the Data Availability Statement. This allows me to check if all the data needed to reproduce the results presented in the paper are available, accessible, and ultimately resilient to time (e.g., adequately annotated). I will be helped in this task by DataSeer (https://dataseer.ai/), whose tools aim to identify the data that should be present and compare it to the archive itself. To speed up this process, the best thing you can do to help me in this—and sped up publication of your article—is to follow our guidance closely, archive your data early on and complete your Data Availability Statement at the revisions stage. You can look at our guide here. I wish to emphasise that this is not a punitive endeavor: I aim to help you comply with JEB’s requirements, so that your published work will best find its place in the scientific landscape.
My second task is to shape our Open Data policy. I sincerely believe that a sensible data policy can only be in phase with the community our journal serves. I am thus keen to hear your concerns, feedback, and suggestions. Of course, you are always welcome to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), chat with me, or invite me to present (in person or online) to your group/institute regarding our current policies and trigger discussions. I will be present at ESEB 2022 in Prague, and I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your suggestions.