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:

see more...

Journals that publish data papers

Please notify us at communication@gbif.org with corrections or updates.

Publisher: Biomed Central

BMC Ecology

BMC Ecology is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on environmental, behavioral and population ecology as well as biodiversity of plants, animals and microbes.
2015 Impact Factor: 2.724

BMC Plant Biology

BMC Plant Biology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of plant biology, including molecular, cellular, tissue, organ and whole organism research.
2015 Impact Factor: 3.631


GigaScience aims to revolutionize data dissemination, organization, understanding, and use. An online open-access open-data journal, we publish 'big-data' studies from the entire spectrum of life and biomedical sciences. To achieve our goals, the journal has a novel publication format: one that links standard manuscript publication with an extensive database that hosts all associated data and provides data analysis tools and cloud-computing resources.
2015 Impact Factor: 7.463

Publisher: Copernicus GmbH

Earth System Science Data

Earth System Science Data (ESSD) is an international, interdisciplinary journal for the publication of articles on original research data(sets), furthering the reuse of high (reference) quality data of benefit to Earth System Sciences. The editors encourage submissions on original data or data collections which are of sufficient quality and potential impact to contribute to these aims.
2015 Impact Factor: 8.286

Publisher: Ecological Society of America

Ecological Archives

Ecology, the leading international journal in its field, publishes articles that report and interpret the results of original scientific research in basic and applied ecology. Note that this journal is not open access.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: F1000 Research Ltd

F1000 Research

The first Open Science journal for life scientists. Data Notes are brief descriptions of scientific datasets that include details of why and how the data were created; they do not include any analyses or conclusions.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: Hindawi

Dataset Papers in Science

Dataset Papers in Science is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal that publishes dataset papers in a wide range of subjects in science and medicine. The journal is run by a relatively large, international Editorial Board of experts in all subject areas of the journal.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

Scientific Data

Scientific Data is a new open-access, online-only publication for descriptions of scientifically valuable datasets. Scientific Data exists to help you publish, discover and reuse research data.
2015 Impact Factor: Expected 2016/2017

Publisher: Pensoft

Biodiversity Data Journal

Biodiversity Data Journal (BDJ) is a community peer-reviewed, open-access, comprehensive online platform, designed to accelerate publishing, dissemination and sharing of biodiversity-related data of any kind. All structural elements of the articles Ð text, morphological descriptions, occurrences, data tables, etc.—will be treated and stored as DATA, in accordance with the Data Publishing Policies and Guidelines of Pensoft Publishers.
2015 Impact Factor: None


BioRisk is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online and print, rapidly published journal in ecology and biodiversity science.
2015 Impact Factor: None


MycoKeys is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online and print, rapidly produced journal launched to support free exchange of ideas and information in systematics and biology of fungi (including lichens).
2015 Impact Factor: 1.846

Nature Conservation

Nature Conservation is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online and print, rapidly published journal.
2015 Impact Factor: 1.120


NeoBiota is a peer-reviewed, open-access, rapid online journal launched to accelerate research on alien species and biological invasions: aquatic and terrestrial, animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms. The journal NeoBiota is a continuation of the former NEOBIOTA publication series.
2015 Impact Factor: None


PhytoKeys is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online and print, rapidly produced journal launched to support free exchange of ideas and information in systematic botany.
2015 Impact Factor: 0.990


ZooKeys is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online and print, rapidly produced journal launched to support free exchange of ideas and information in systematic zoology, phylogeny and biogeography.
2015 Impact Factor: 0.938

Publisher: PLOS


PLoS ONE is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication. PLOS ONE welcomes reports on primary research from any scientific discipline.
2015 Impact Factor: 3.057

Publisher: Wiley (on behalf of Royal Meteorological Society)

Geoscience Data Journal

The Geoscience Data Journal provides an open access platform where scientific data can be formally published, in a way that includes scientific peer-review.
2015 Impact Factor: 1.562

Publisher: SpringerOpen

Botanical Studies

Botanical Studies is sponsored by the Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica, and is open for articles on all aspects of botany. The scope of the journal extends from plant molecular biology through classical botany to taxonomy and ecology.
2015 Impact Factor: 1.159

Earth Perspectives

Earth Perspectives focuses on publishing and promoting integrating approaches to research, analysis and prediction of the Earth System, including the role of humans that either contribute to and/or are affected by the Earth System variability and changes. The journal's intent is to bring together rich scientific knowledge and experience residing within natural and social sciences and humanities towards developing solutions and best practices that can be used in addressing contemporary socioeconomic development challenges facing the nations around the world. This holistic approach to global sustainability requires a transdisciplinary research agenda to be enabled by the scholarly papers published in Earth Perspectives.
2015 Impact Factor: None


SpringerPlus accepts manuscripts from all disciplines of Science. We accept manuscripts describing original research as well as case descriptions and methods, and we expressly encourage submission of data reports and large datasets.
2015 Impact Factor: 0.982

Publisher: Elsevier

Data in Brief

Because you never know what data will be useful to someone else, Data in Brief, welcomes submissions, that describe data from all research areas.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: Chinese Acadademy of Sciencies

China Scientific Data

SciDB nonprofit online data repository of scientific data is committed to work to promote high-quality basic research data can be long-term, stable collection, management, sharing and application. Our journal aims to enable research data sharing so that it can be accessible and intelligible. Covering all fields. Mostly in Chinese. Highlights include life sciences, earth sciences, space astronomy, chemistry, materials science, information science, social sciences and so on.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: Biotaxa


Check List is a peer-reviewed online journal, devoted to publishing biodiversity data related to species' geographic distribution. Good for publishing checklists.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute

Biota Colombiana

Biota Colombiana is an institutional publication, periodical and scientific serial for the dissemination of knowledge about the Colombian biodiversity and neotropics. It publishes papers in systematics and biogeography. It includes topics related to botany, zoology, ecology, biology, limnology, fisheries, conservation, natural resources management and use of biological diversity. Data paper manuscripts accepted since 2013. Papers may be written in Spanish, English or Portuguese.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: MDPI Open Access Journals


The journal Data provides a forum to publish methodical papers on processes applied to data collection, treatment and analysis, as well as for data set papers publishing descriptions of a linked data set.
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: Regional Euro-Asian Biological Invasions Centre (REABIC) Journals

BioInvasions Records

BioInvasions Records is an open-access, peer-reviewed international journal focusing on field research of biological invasions in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems from around the world. It was established in November 2011 as a continuation of the former Aquatic Invasions Records, an electronic supplement of the international journal Aquatic Invasions, with start-up funding from the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development Collaborative Project enviroGRIDS.

BioInvasions Records provides authors with their rights protection concerning primary geo-referenced records, biological monitoring and surveys as well as timely publication of reports concerning first alien species records. This contributes to rapid information dissemination, risk assessment procedures and early warning systems on invasive alien species (IAS).
2015 Impact Factor: None

Publisher: Natural History Museum of Barcelona

Arxius de Miscel·lània Zoològica

Arxius de Miscel·lània Zoològica, AMZ, is an electronic journal that publishes faunistic, chorological, phenological, morphological and descriptive ecological articles with a full analysis and discussion of results. The journal accepts articles from all zoological groups, including the least studied taxa. There are no geographic limitations, although the journal deals mainly with the region of the Western Mediterranean. As its title indicates, the journal is interested in publishing articles concerning all biological groups, without forgetting those which are often overlooked.
2015 Impact Factor: None