Data papers

Getting scholarly recognition for your datasets

Map excerpt from data paper "GPS tracking data of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls breeding at the southern North Sea coast" by Stienen et al published 2016 in Zookeys.
Map excerpt from data paper by Stienen et al. in Zookeys describing a bird tracking dataset.

Data paper webinar

A recorded webinar introducing data papers and providing helpful guidelines and tips for writing them is available from here.

What is a data paper?

A data paper is a peer reviewed document describing a dataset, published in a peer reviewed journal. It takes effort to prepare, curate and describe data. Data papers provide recognition for this effort by means of a scholarly article.

Data papers explained

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.

View bibliography of all data papers publishing data to the GBIF network

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.

Data paper tools

GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT)

GBIF has worked with Pensoft Publishers to develop a workflow for generating a data paper manuscript using the GBIF Metadata Profile, provided as part of the Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). At a click of a button you can download the metadata as an RTF-formatted manuscript ready for editing and submission for peer review following the normal procedures of any journal accepting this kind of publication (see table below).


This tool created by SiBBr extracts metadata from a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), and creates a manuscript in RTF format ready for editing and submission.

arpha Writing Tool

The arpha Writing Tool further simplifies the process of publishing a data papers. Metadata from a dataset can be uploaded, and the entire process from collaborative writing, commenting, and editing, over submission and peer review, to publication and post-publication revising is handled in one web-based tool. Detailed instructions on importing metadata from IPT-hosted datasets are available.

The arpha Writing Tool currently supports direct submission to Biodiversity Data Journal.

Journals that publish biodiversity-related data papers

Please notify us at with corrections or updates.

Journal Publisher Open Access (license) APC estimate Journal Impact Factor (2020) Scopus CiteScore (2020)
Arxius de Miscel·lània Zoològica Nat Hist Museum of Barcelona CC BY 0 - 0.8
Big Earth Data Taylor & Francis Online CC BY EUR 910 - 6.5
Biodiversity Data Journal Pensoft CC BY EUR 550 1.225 2
Biogeographia eScholarship CC BY 0 - 2.2
BioInvasions Records REABIC Journals CC BY EUR 420 1.608 2.5
BioRisk Pensoft Yes EUR 140 - 0.9
Biota Colombiana Humboldt Institute, Colombia CC BY-NC-ND 0 - 0.1
BMC Ecology and Evolution Biomed Central CC BY or CC0 GBP 1570 2.964 3.4
BMC Plant Biology Biomed Central CC BY GBP 1690 4.215 5.2
Botanical Studies SpringerOpen CC BY GBP 1370 2.787 4.7
Check List Biotaxa CC BY EUR 150 - 1
China Scientific Data Chinese Academy of Sciences Yes EUR 458 - -
Data in Brief Elsevier CC BY USD 700 - 1.7
Data MDPI Open Access Journals CC BY CHF 1400 - 3.5
Earth System Science Data Copernicus GmbH CC BY 0 11.333 12.6
Ecological Research Wiley, for The Ecological Society of Japan Yes USD 3000 1.917 3.3
F1000 Research F1000 Research Ltd CC BY USD 1000 - 4.4
The Freshwater Metadata Journal Univ of Nat Res & Life Sci, Vienna CC BY 0 - -
Geoscience Data Journal Wiley (on behalf of RMetS) CC BY EUR 1200 1.778 2.9
GigaByte BGI and Oxford University Press CC BY USD 350 minimum - -
GigaScience Oxford University Press CC BY EUR 1902 6.524 9.1
Journal of Limnology PAGEPress CC BY EUR 600 1.589 3.3
MycoKeys Pensoft CC BY EUR 1000-3000 2.984 3.6
Nature Conservation Pensoft CC BY EUR 1000-3000 2.417 3.6
NeoBiota Pensoft CC BY EUR 1000-3000 3.684 3.9
PhytoKeys Pensoft CC BY EUR 1000-3000 1.635 1.8
PLOS ONE Plos CC BY USD 1749 3.24 5.3
Scientific Data Nature Publishing Group CC BY EUR 1690 6.444 8.9
Taxon Internat. Assoc. Plant Taxonomists (IAPT) Yes EUR 1800 2.338 4.2
ZooKeys Pensoft CC BY EUR 1000-3000 1.546 2.2
Annals of Forest Science Springer Optional EUR 3140 2.583 3.7
Global Ecology and Biogeography Wiley Optional ? 7.144 10
Ecology Ecological Society of America Optional USD 3300 5.499 -

(Open access, licensing and APC information derived from DOAJ - CC BY-SA 4.0)