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Major publishers mandate free sharing of Covid data

Members commit to sharing Covid-19 data in a global public repository

Academic publishers have launched an initiative which mandates sharing of Covid-19 data in a public repository in an effort to speed up peer review and to support the publication of crucial, pandemic-related research.

From 20 January members of the C19 Rapid Review Initiative’s original group of more than a dozen journals such as eLife, F1000 Research and Hindawi must share data in a public repository rather than just have it available on request.

Established in April 2020, the group currently includes more than 20 publishers seeking a more efficient peer review process, along with its two most recent members: Oxford University Press and Gates Open Research, which will align with the mandate “in due course”, according to a release on 20 January.

Group members will adhere to ‘FAIR’ data standards to make research findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

Sarah Greaves, an independent STM publishing consultant and a co-founder of the group said that the 20 January mandate was the “next step” outlined in its statement of intent in 2020.

“The ethos of this group is openness and transparency in publishing anything that could help against the current pandemic,” she said, adding, “we know that data available on request is often not truly available so wanted to make sure all related data for Covid-19 papers from journals involved in this initiative is immediately visible without hurdles.”

Phil Hurst, publisher at the Royal Society said: “The open sharing of data is essential to allow the scientific community to scrutinise the validity of research findings—this is even more important in times of crisis”.