What’s the Answer? (data access #fail)

BioStar is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at BioStar that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at BioStar.

This week’s highlighted question got a lot of votes! Sadly, it’s far too common. And probably most people have run into this problem in bioinformatics and genomics at some point. Sometimes it’s data, sometimes it’s software.

Question: What if authors do not share their published data ?

Dear biostars,

I am wondering what do you do if any author do not share his/her published data with you ? Usually I send an email request after checking their supplemental and public database (ex: GEO) links or others in their paper carefully. Most of the time they do respond to my requests. However sometimes I never get any response from either first or corresponding author regrading sharing their data even after multiple requests. It is really frustrating as the guidelines of that journal (Cell, Nature) clearly state that the data should be public. Do you have any similar experience ? If you write any complaint to the editor, does it work ?

Thanx in advance
Sorry that it is not really a bioinformatics question


Zev Kronenberg gives an excellent stepwise answer. Be sure to look at step zero! But there are a couple of other items you can read through as well. Go have a look at the answers.

But there’s no excuse for this now. With FigShare, GitHub, and other existing options for various types of things that need to be made available, it needs to improve. Reviewers need to demand this, and editors have to insist on this. And those who don’t deliver will likely be subject to some public shaming–because that’s the last step when all else fails (see Zev’s step 7).