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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PREDICTING INTERACTIVE EFFECTS OF CO2, TEMPERATURE, AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS ON AGRICULTUAL PRODUCTIVITIY

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Title: Publishing Agronomic Data

Authors
item White, Jeffrey
item Van Evert, Frits - PLT RES INTL, NETHERLANDS

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2008
Publication Date: August 1, 2008
Citation: White, J.W., Van Evert, F.K., 2008. Publishing Agronomic Data. Agronomy Journal, Vol. 100, Issue 5, pp. 1396 - 1400.

Interpretive Summary: A typical agricultural experiment produces vastly more data than can be reproduced in the research publications that scientists use as their main medium for presenting results. Data provided in a paper often are not detailed enough to allow the analysis to be checked, nor can the data be re-analyzed, perhaps together with data from other experiments or using techniques developed long after the original paper was published. Limitations to re-analysis are particularly unfortunate because agricultural research increasingly deals with issues that require examining large or detailed sets of data. Examples include estimating the potential impacts of climate change or identifying potential bioenergy crops. Journals increasingly favor publishing data in digital supplements. This improves the likelihood that papers will be cited while reducing the length of journal articles. In this paper, we argue that formal methods for publishing datasets from agricultural research should be established, fully analogous to publishing research findings. Criteria for determining whether a dataset merits publication include originality, utility, significance, completeness, quality, and usability. Mechanisms for distributing datasets also merit attention. Ensuring long-term accessibility, respecting intellectual property rights, and managing possible corrections or modifications to datasets are among issues that require consideration. Promoting such policies should ultimately lead to more efficient research, both saving costs and increasing our confidence in research findings. These improvements should ultimately benefit producers and policymakers who rely on research outputs to guide both day-to-day and stragetic decision-making.

Technical Abstract: A typical agricultural experiment produces vastly more data than can be reproduced in a research paper. Thus, data provided in a paper often are not detailed enough to allow the analysis to be checked, nor can the data be re-analyzed, perhaps together with data from other experiments or using techniques developed long after the original paper was published. Limitations to re-analysis are particularly unfortunate because agricultural research increasingly deals with issues that require examining large or detailed sets of data. Journals increasingly favor publishing data in digital supplements this improves the likelihood that papers will be cited while reducing the length of journal articles. In this paper we argue that formal methods for publishing datasets from agricultural research should be established, fully analogous to publishing research findings. Criteria for determining whether a dataset merits publication include originality, utility, significance, completeness, quality, and usability. Mechanisms for distributing datasets also merit attention. Ensuring long-term accessibility, respecting intellectual property rights, and managing possible corrections or modifications to datasets are among issues that require consideration.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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