What are data journals and do they present a good opportunity for Edge Hill researchers? We explain all…

cover image of the journal 'Data in Brief'
‘Data in Brief’ is a data journal published by Elsevier

Publishing in academic journals is the best-known way to present research findings in many academic disciplines, especially in the sciences. Presenting the dataset is a newer idea, and often takes place on data repositories like Edge Hill Figshare or Open Science Framework.

But what about the gap in between? A journal article provides a narrative of the research project or experiment, but might not link through to the underlying dataset, and a dataset on its own may lack crucial context to make it useful for other researchers or readers to build upon.

This is where publishing articles in data journals come in. Typically shorter than a conventional research article, a data article is generally around 1000 words long and describes the open dataset, providing valuable context so other people can understand its features better, or re-use it. Data articles do not discuss research findings – that’s what traditional journals are for.

Data journals

As a researcher you have several options for publishing data articles. Firstly, there are multi-disciplinary titles like Elsevier’s Data in Brief. Dr Nonso Nnamoko and colleagues from Computer Science recently published here and explained how their dataset could help stop cyber criminals committing identity fraud, making online shopping safer for the rest of us. The data is based on the keystroke and mouse dynamics of online shoppers.

In the digital humanities, there is The Journal of Open Humanities Data which features articles on topics such as Nepalese manuscripts, silent cinema or French sonnets and more. In Biology, titles like Biodiversity Data Journal allow biologists to highlight valuable datasets which fellow scientists can integrate into their projects or meta-analyses.

Because data journals are fairly novel, they are generally open access. This is great because it means anyone can read the articles and the datasets can really create impact. In fact, having a data article associated with your research can mean more citations for your journal article! In the article, ‘Deep Impact: A Study on the Impact of Data Papers and Datasets in the Humanities and Social Sciences’ the authors found:

Data papers have a positive impact on both the metrics of research papers associated with them and on data reuse

However, free access means data journals may cover costs in different ways. Instead of library subscriptions, these titles are often funded by APCs (Article Processing Charges). For example, publishing in Data in Brief costs $530. Therefore, it can suit authors to find data journals supported by professional associations.

Research Data Journal for the Humanities and Social Sciences, published by Brill is ‘Diamond open access’, so it doesn’t feature author charges.

Where can I find our more?

logo for open research week 2023 with blue background
Open Research Week takes place from Friday 3rd to Wednesday 15th March 2023

We have an online talk dedicated to data journals 10-11 AM on Monday, 13 March, which is open to all. Editors from The Journal of Open Humanities Data and Biodiversity Data Journal will introduce their journals and explain how data articles can enhance scholarship in their fields and provide opportunities for authors. The session is chaired by Professor Youngim Jung fromĀ Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), who will discuss the future of data journals, and whether now is the time for them to grow in influence.

You can register for the session here and even if you miss the talk, a recording will be sent to you. It is part of Open Research Week, which is presented by Edge Hill University, Liverpool John Moores University, and The University of Liverpool. All events are free to attend and take place online.