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Free and open access to primary biodiversity data is essential for informed decision-making in conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development. Amongst several impediments to facilitate access to data, one of the major bottleneck is a lack of incentives for data publishers to publish their data resources. One of the solutions recommended by the GBIF Data Publishing Framework Task Group in order to overcome this impediment is the ‘Data Paper’ concept and associated workflow.
Data Paper is a scholarly journal publication whose primary purpose is to describe a dataset or a group of datasets, rather than to report a research investigation. As such, it contains facts about data, not hypotheses and arguments in support of the data, as found in conventional research article. Its purposes are three-fold: (a) to provide a citable journal publication that brings scholarly credits to data publishers; (b) to describe the data in a structured human-readable form; and (c) to bring the existence of the data to the attention of the scholarly community.
In 2010, GBIF and Pensoft began investigating ways and means to mainstream biodiversity data publishing in the form of “data papers”. As a result this partnership pioneered a workflow between the GBIF’s Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) and Pensoft’s journals viz., Phytokeys, MycoKeys, ZooKeys, BioRisks, Nature Conservation etc. Till date, over 20 data papers have been published mainly in ZooKeys and PhytoKeys. The workflow generates data paper manuscripts from the extended metadata descriptions in IPT automatically at the “click of a button”. Then manuscripts are submitted to the journal and undergo a peer review and editorial process.
A new feature to come, is a fully XML-based submission of data paper manudcripts from IPT direct to the newly launched Biodiversity Data Journal (BDJ). Vice versa, data papers submitted directly to BDJ, could be uploaded on IPT upon publication, again in a fully automated way.
The concept and process of data paper authoring and publishing is rapidly evolving. As an outcome new features are incorporated in latest data papers to enhance and enrich their quality. We have experienced increasing interest by the data publisher communities in authoring and publishing biodiversity data paper. Given these facts, we are of the opinion that data paper as a concept is on its way to be a mainstream activity of biodiversity research and conservation.