Data editing at JEB

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 (s.j.j.lequime@rug.nl), 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.

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