What is a data paper?

A data paper is a searchable metadata document, describing a particular dataset or a group of datasets, published in the form of a peer-reviewed article in a scholarly journal.

Unlike a conventional research article, the primary purpose of a data paper is to describe data and the circumstances of their collection, rather than to report hypotheses and conclusions. 

GBIF has been working with partners in academic publishing to promote the data paper as a means of bringing credit and recognition to all those involved in data publication; to alert the scientific community to the existence of biodiversity datasets and the value they can bring to particular research projects; and as a mechanism for quality assessment and control of data accessible through GBIF and other networks.  


Why publish data papers?

Authoring clear, informative metadata is an essential step if biodiversity data are going to be discovered and used to inform research and decisions. This involves extra work, and data publishers need incentives to do it. In the absence of such incentives, too many datasets are published with poorly-documented metadata or, worse still, no metadata at all.

Data papers help to overcome barriers to authoring of metadata by providing clear acknowledgement of all those involved in the collection, management, curation and publishing of biodiversity data. 

By publishing a data paper, you will:

  • Receive credit through indexing and citation of the published paper, in the same way as with any conventional scholarly publication, offering benefits to authors in terms of recognition and career building;
  • Increase the visibility, usability and credibility of the data resources you publish;
  • Track more effectively the usage and citations of the data you publish.

How to publish a data paper

GBIF has worked with Pensoft Publishing to develop a workflow for generating a data paper manuscript using the GBIF Metadata Profile, provided as part of the Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). The same document can then be used as metadata for the dataset published through GBIF or any other data network, and submitted for peer review following the normal procedures of any journal accepting this kind of publication.

You will find detailed information and guidance on publishing data papers in the resources listed to the right of this page. The recommended steps for submitting data papers to a suitable journal can be summed up as follows:

  • Author a metadata document using the GBIF Metadata Profile available through the Integrated Publising Toolkit (IPT);
  • Use the 'one-click' function available through the IPT to generate a data paper manuscript draft from the metadata document;
  • Edit the manuscript draft and submit for peer review, revision and publication using the standard procedures for journals accepting data papers.


Published data papers

Most recent 3 publications in this category:

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