The UPSIDE principle

Community standards for sharing publication-related data and materials should flow from the general principle that the publication of scientific information is intended to move science forward.  More specifically, the act of publishing is a quid pro quo in which authors receive credit and acknowledgment in exchange for disclosure of their scientific findings.  An author's obligation is not only to release data and materials to enable others to verify or replicate published findings (as journals already implicitly or explicitly require) but also to provide them in a form on which other scientists can build with further research.  All members of the scientific community--whether working in academia, government, or a commercial enterprise--have equal responsibility for upholding community standards as participants in the publication system, and all should be equally able to derive benefits from it.

Data and software

  • Authors should include in their publications the data, algorithms, or other information that is central or integral to the publication.
  • If central or integral information cannot be included in the publication for practical reasons (for example, because a data set is too large), it should be made freely (without restriction on its use for research purposes and at no cost) and readily accessible through other means (for example, on line).

Public repositories

  • If publicly accessible repositories for data have been agreed on by a community of researchers and are in general use, the relevant data should be deposited in one of these repositories by the time of publication.


  • Authors of scientific publications should anticipate which materials integral to their publications are likely to be requested and should state in the “Materials and Methods” section or elsewhere how to obtain them.
  • If a material integral to a publication is patented, the provider of the material should make the material available under a license for research use.


Database legislation

The scientific community should continue to be involved in crafting appropriate terms of any legislation that provides additional database protection.


It is appropriate for scientific reviewers of a paper submitted for publication to help identify materials that are integral to the publication

Exclusive licensing of materials

It is not acceptable for the provider of a publication-related material to demand an exclusive license to commercialize a new substance

Material transfer agreements

  • The merits of adopting a standard MTA should be examined closely by all institutions engaged in technology transfer.
  • Participants in the publication process should commit to a limit of 60 days to complete the negotiation of publication-related MTAs and transmit the requested materials or data.

Journal policies

  • Scientific journals should clearly and prominently state (in the instructions for authors and on their Web sites) their policies for distribution of publication-related materials, data, and other information.
  • Policies for sharing materials should include requirements for depositing materials in an appropriate repository. 
  • Policies for data sharing should include requirements for deposition of complex data sets in appropriate databases and for the sharing of software and algorithms integral to the findings being reported.
  • Policies should also clearly state the consequences for authors who do not adhere to the policies and the procedure for registering complaints about noncompliance.

Funding agencies

  • Sponsors of research and research institutions should clearly and prominently state their policies for distribution of publication-related materials and data by their grant or contract recipients or employees.

Noncompliance with requests for data and materials

  • If an author does not comply with a request for data or materials in a reasonable time period (60 days) and the requester has contacted the author to determine if extenuating circumstances (travel, sabbatical, or other reasons) may have caused the delay, it is acceptable for the requester to contact the journal in which the paper was published.
  • If that course of action is not successful in due course (another 30 days), the requester may reasonably contact the author's university or other institution or the founder of the research in question for assistance. Those entities should have a policy and process in place for responding to such requests for assistance in obtaining publication-related data or materials.

Costs of making data and materials available

  • Funding organizations should provide the recipients of research grants and contracts with the financial resources needed to support dissemination of publication-related data and materials.

Acknowledgment of contributions of data and materials

  • Authors who have received data or materials from other investigators should acknowledge such contributions appropriately.

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Copyright © Mary Waltham

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