Data & Software Availability Policy
PART I. DATA AVAILABILITY
All articles in journals that report original results should include the source data underlying the results, together with details of any software used to process the results. It is essential that others can see the source data in order to be able to replicate the study and analyse the data, as well as in some circumstances, reuse it. Failure to provide the source data for publication without good justification is likely to result in the article being rejected. For detailed information about the type of data authors need to include when publishing an article in the journals, where the data can be stored, and how they should be presented.
We recognize that there may be cases where openly sharing data may not be feasible (because of ethical or security considerations, or data protection issues). If you think that this applies to your article, please let the editorial team know at the submission stage, as we have policies in place to allow the publication of papers associated with such data, whilst maintaining the appropriate level of security.
Exceptions may be made for:
i. Ethical and security considerations
If data access is restricted for ethical or security reasons, the manuscript must include:
- a description of the restrictions on the data; and
- all necessary information required for a reader or reviewer to apply for access to the data and the conditions under which access will be granted.
ii. Data protection issues
Where human data cannot be effectively de-identified, data must not be shared in order to protect patient/participant privacy unless the individuals have given explicit written consent that their identifiable data can be made publicly available.
In instances where the data cannot be made available, the manuscript must include:
- an explanation of the data protection concern;
- any intermediary data that can be de-identified without compromising anonymity;
- what, if anything, the relevant Institutional Review Board (IRB) or equivalent said about data sharing; and,
- where applicable, all necessary information required for a reader or reviewer to apply for access to the data and the conditions under which access will be granted.
1. Social Media Data
Where data has been obtained from social media sites, we ask that authors do not share this data due to ethical and copyright restrictions. This includes reproductions of the data in the manuscript, e.g. images of representative posts, unless you have explicit written informed consent to publish from the author of the social media post. The manuscript should include:
- a methods section containing a detailed description of the methodology to allow replication by others, including sources, search dates, full search strategies/terms, eligibility criteria, and data selection processes; and
- a description of the data in the Data Availability section, including any variables assessed; and
- the following disclaimer in the Data Availability section: The underlying data to this research cannot be shared due to the ethical and copyright restrictions surrounding social media data. The Methods section contains detailed information to allow replication of the study. Any queries about the methodology should be directed to the corresponding author.
2. Large Data
It is not always feasible to share large data sets. In these cases, authors should include a description of the data, including the file types and sizes, when submitting their manuscript. The editorial team can then advise on hosting.
Where data is too large to be feasibly hosted by a recommended repository, the manuscript should include:
- any intermediary data that can be easily shared; and
- all necessary information required for a reader or reviewer to access the data alongside a description of this process.
3. Data under license by a third party
In cases where data has been obtained from a third party and restrictions apply to the availability of the data, the manuscript must include:
- all necessary information required for a reader or reviewer to access the data by the same means as the authors;
- any intermediary data that can be shared legally; and
- publicly available data that is representative of the analysed dataset and can be used to apply the methodology described in the manuscript.
In cases where data from human studies has been obtained from government level organisations (e.g. the Ministry of Health), and strict restrictions regarding availability of the data apply, the authors must include a clear explanation about the restrictions, and all the necessary information required for a reader or reviewer to request access from the data owners. This option will be discussed with authors on a case-by-case basis and can only be considered if there are no discernible competing interests, especially if these are commercial in nature.
PART II. SOFTWARE AVAILABILITY
Information about software should be included in a Software Availability Statement, which you can add to the end of your article, before the reference list.
When drafting the statement, please include:
- Software available from: URL for the website where software can be downloaded from, if applicable.
- Source code available from: URL for versioning control system (for example GitHub).
- Archived source code at time of publication: DOI and citation for project in Zenodo (please select the appropriate DOI for the version which underlies your article).
- License: Must be an open license and preferably an OSI-approved license.
If there are ethical or privacy considerations as to why the source code may not be made available, please contact the editorial team.
Where third-party proprietary software has been used, an open-source alternative software must be provided in the article to allow for the replication of the analysis/ research by all, see Alternative.net for examples. We recognise that there may be cases where this is not feasible, and exceptions may be made if the chosen proprietary software performs specific functions and there is no open-source alternative that can carry out these functions in the same manner.
If this exception relates to your article, please provide:
- A statement in the ‘Software Availability’ section that includes a clear description of the third-party proprietary software used, including the name and version number, and what it was used for in the research.
- A detailed ‘Methods’ section that allows for replication; for example, the maths underpinning any simulations or calculations run using the proprietary software.
- Any output data or analysis code generated during the research. This should be provided openly and in an open file format. If an open file format is not possible, this can be provided in the proprietary format. See our data guidelines for more information on uploading datasets.