Electron Physics group embraces open data

A research group from the School of Electrical Engineering (ELEC) is changing its attitude towards open science. In addition to ensuring the open accessibility of published journal articles, they are now embracing a wider scope of open science principles.
Researchers operating tube furnace in Micronova cleanroom
Researchers operating tube furnace in Micronova cleanroom / Photo by Electron Physics Group

In alignment with the European Union's guidelines for research funding, there is a demand for data to be made 'as open as possible' and 'as closed as necessary'. The Research Council of Finland also corroborates this approach, insisting on extensive availability of research data produced by funded projects.

Despite being a worldwide trend, open data is yet to become prevalent. This is evident with PLOS, a publisher of entirely open-access journals. As of 2023, the percentage of articles that have shared data in an open-access repository remains as low as 29% [10.6084/m9.figshare.21640889].

Reflecting on the previous practice of seeking data from publications, Dr. Xiaolong Liu, Data Agent from the School of Electrical Engineering (ELEC) and Academy Research Fellow, acknowledges the complexity of reusing data extracted from figures within publications and other sources. Persuading unfamiliar corresponding authors to share datasets can be difficult, often leading researchers to resort to software for data extraction from graphs. A survey published in 2022 [10.1016/j.jclinepi.2022.05.019] revealed a disheartening compliance rate of 6.8% to data requests, even when authors commit to sharing data upon request in their manuscripts. One major obstacle is the laborious process of searching through experimental archives. Even with a well-organised archive, it would be much simpler if the data were readily accessible alongside the publication.

Given these facts, the Electron Physics Group, headed by Prof. Hele Savin, recognises the need to share and publish research data. This is important not only to meet the requirements of funders but also to increase the impact of their research. From now on, they will be publishing datasets openly in suitable data repositories for all their future research papers.

Open data's undeniable value lies in the facilitation of data reuse for everyone. It encourages the reproducibility of research and fosters responsible research practices. This embraces potential for an amplified scientific impact, paving the way for increased citation frequency and collaboration opportunities. With their commitment to open data, the Electron Physics Group is looking forward to a future of more accountable, collaborative and impactful research.

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