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How common is data sharing for COVID-19 preprints?


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • A study of COVID-19 preprints found that only a quarter included a data sharing statement, and just 15% shared raw data.
  • The authors call for preprint servers to introduce compulsory data sharing statements and for better education of researchers on data sharing.

The use of preprints has skyrocketed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with this publication type included in guidance from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors updated earlier this year. Publishing via preprints should allow other scientists to scrutinise key findings at the earliest opportunity; however, a recent study found that many authors using the popular medRxiv and bioRxiv preprint servers do not share their raw data.

Prof Livia Puljak and her team analysed data sharing practices in COVID-19 preprints published in early 2020. Of 699 articles, a mere 26% included a data sharing statement. Raw data were only accessible for 15% of all articles, and were unobtainable even for half of the preprints that reported data as being accessible.

Raw data were only accessible for 15% of all articles, and were unobtainable even for half of the preprints that reported data as being accessible.

It seems that problems with open and transparent data sharing aren’t limited to COVID-19 research or to preprints – the same team also reported low rates of data sharing in a larger study of peer reviewed biomedical and health science articles.

Sharing data is crucial to enable replication of key results and effective design of further studies, and may be especially important for ‘work in progress’ preprints, for which conclusions may change over time. As such, the authors call for compulsory data sharing statements in all preprints and “education of researchers about the meaning of data sharing.”

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What do you think - should preprint authors share all their raw data at the time of preprint publication?

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