Interesting analysis of data sharing in paleogenetics #OpenScience

There is a new paper out that may be of interest to many: “When Data Sharing Gets Close to 100%: What Human Paleogenetics Can Teach the Open Science Movement”.  It discusses an analysis of paleogenetics and the open science / open data practices in the field.  This seems like it could be of relevance to the microBEnet crowd and to new fields in general.  The earlier we get people thinking about open science activities and their potential benefits, the better (I think).

Full Citation: Anagnostou P, Capocasa M, Milia N, Sanna E, Battaggia C, et al. (2015) When Data Sharing Gets Close to 100%: What Human Paleogenetics Can Teach the Open Science Movement. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0121409. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121409


This study analyzes data sharing regarding mitochondrial, Y chromosomal and autosomal polymorphisms in a total of 162 papers on ancient human DNA published between 1988 and 2013. The estimated sharing rate was not far from totality (97.6% ± 2.1%) and substantially higher than observed in other fields of genetic research (evolutionary, medical and forensic genetics). Both a questionnaire-based survey and the examination of Journals’ editorial policies suggest that this high sharing rate cannot be simply explained by the need to comply with stakeholders requests. Most data were made available through body text, but the use of primary databases increased in coincidence with the introduction of complete mitochondrial and next-generation sequencing methods. Our study highlights three important aspects. First, our results imply that researchers’ awareness of the importance of openness and transparency for scientific progress may complement stakeholders’ policies in achieving very high sharing rates. Second, widespread data sharing does not necessarily coincide with a prevalent use of practices which maximize data findability, accessibility, useability and preservation. A detailed look at the different ways in which data are released can be very useful to detect failures to adopt the best sharing modalities and understand how to correct them. Third and finally, the case of human paleogenetics tells us that a widespread awareness of the importance of Open Science may be important to build reliable scientific practices even in the presence of complex experimental challenges.

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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.