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Mark Hahnel at “Publishing Better Science through Better Data”

25th November 2014
By Katy Alexander

Nature and Scientific Data, the open access research data journal, recently hosted a short event on issues surrounding research data management and dissemination. PhD students and postdocs came to Nature‘s offices to learn about how research data affects a scientist’s ability to publish and get funding. The event consisted of a series of talks from editors, data curators, software developers and funder representatives, all giving their perspective on how data affects scientific research and publishing.

One of the people invited to speak was Dr Mark Hahnel, founder of Figshare, who shared his perspective on the sharing of research data.

Mark started his talk by highlighting the increasing impact of governmental and funder mandates for the sharing of research data. The Whitehouse, the Canadian government, the EU and most recently the EPSRC have all unambiguously mandated that researchers should be sharing their data outputs publicly. Open data is becoming an inevitable part of what Mark calls the ‘open academic tidal wave’.

So researchers are going to have to share their data – but how, where and why?

This is where Figshare steps in. Mark shared his own personal frustrations of being unable to publish the video files from his PhD research in an academically reputable way. Figshare solves this problem by providing a place where researchers can easily and quickly upload a huge variety of different digital research outputs, whether they’re videos, animations, audio files, images, data set, slides or figures.

These research outputs are then assigned a DOI, a persistent digital identifier, which allows them to be cited in just the same way that articles are. This is an essential aspect of what Figshare offers and it leads to an answer for the ‘why’ of data sharing. DOIs for your non-traditional research outputs mean more credit for your research. DOIs mean that you can explore the impact of  your digital research outputs using tools like Altmetric. (Here’s one very cool example.) All of this increases the power of your research and represents more evidence that your research is worth funding. As Mark said in his closing remark, “It’s all about taking control, go out there and take control of your research”.

You can watch Mark’s talk below and Naturejobs also did a brilliant write-up of the whole event which you can read here.

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