Open Data in Journal of Animal Ecology

A couple of weeks ago the British Ecology Society Journals published a virtual issue for Open Access Week looking at the most downloaded data sets in Dryad associated with papers on the journals. At Journal of Animal Ecology we encourage authors to use the most appropriate archive for their data and in JAE we’ve seen a variety of repositories used alongside Dryad. For Open Access Week 2016 I looked at the different repositories used by authors in the five BES journals, and in the Journal of Animal Ecology Editorial at the start of this year we looked at this in more detail. The BES journals are integrated with Dryad and cover arching costs for papers published in the journals, and this is by far the most commonly used archive with data from 65% of papers in JAE stored there. After this, the most used repositories are figshare (5%), NERC Data Centres (2%) and Movebank (almost 2%). To complete the picture I thought I’d take a look at the most downloaded data sets in these repositories to complement the list of the most downloaded data sets in Dryad associated with JAE papers. I also spoke to Kathryn Harrison from the NERC Environmental Information Data Centre for her views on best practice for data archiving and reuse. Kathryn also took part in our panel discussion on the future of data archiving in 2015, alongside Mark Thorley, James Pearce-Higgins, Liz Ferguson, Natalie Cooper and chaired by Chuck Fox. The recording of the discussion is available here.

For all the data sets I’ve provided the number of downloads as it is a useful and relevant metric and often the only metric that many repositories have, however, downloads doesn’t necessarily mean a dataset has been reused or cited. Furthermore download data can be affected by crawlers and distinguishing between genuine downloads versus crawlers can be a challenge for repository curators. Demonstrating that a data set has been reused is key to ensuring that people who create publicly available data sets receive credit for it. However, achieving this is not straightforward. Citations of data sets would be useful but this isn’t yet readily available. To compound this problem Kathryn Harrison comments that often authors don’t include information on a data set used in a paper in a format that allows it to be picked up by web of science or other indexing services.

The overall goal from Kathryn’s perspective is to “improve the numbers of datasets cited correctly and display proper citation metrics for each dataset” by doing so, Kathryn believes we’d “get much better linking up between journal papers, the datasets they are based on and the impact certain datasets are having in a particular field of science and also greater reproducibility and transparency”, this is a goal that we very much support.

At the BES we’ve tried to address this by ensuring that data sets are properly cited in the reference list of all papers published in the journals and we now enable authors to include all sources used in a meta-analysis (or similar) in the published paper under a ‘Data sources’ section so that they can be fully indexed and their authors are given proper citation credit.

Going forward, at JAE we continue to encourage authors use the most appropriate repository for their data so that it is most usable and discoverable to the members of the ecological community likely to access their data, and to remind authors to properly cite all data sets in their paper.

I would like to thank Kathryn Harrison for providing the download data for data sets in the NERC data centres and Sarah Davidson for providing download data for Movebank data sets.

Simon Hoggart
Assistant Editor


Behavioural flexibility in migratory behaviour in a long-lived large herbivore. (2016) Scott L. Eggeman, Mark Hebblewhite, Holger Bohm, Jesse Whittington, Evelyn H. Merrill
Data set downloads = 574 & 379

Forecasting spring from afar? Timing of migration and predictability of phenology along different migration routes of an avian herbivore. (2015) Andrea Kölzsch, Silke Bauer, Rob de Boer, Larry Griffin, David Cabot, Klaus‐Michael Exo, Henk P. van der Jeugd, Bart A. Nolet
Data set downloads = 566 & 440*

When Siberia came to the Netherlands: the response of continental black-tailed godwits to a rare spring weather event. (2015) Nathan R. Senner, Mo A. Verhoeven, José M. Abad‐Gómez, Jorge S. Gutiérrez, Jos C. E. W. Hooijmeijer, Rosemarie Kentie, José A. Masero, T. Lee Tibbitts, Theunis Piersma
Dataset downloads = 220 & 150*

Allometric and temporal scaling of movement characteristics in Galapagos tortoises. (2016) Guillaume Bastille‐Rousseau, Charles B. Yackulic, Jacqueline L. Frair, Freddy Cabrera, Stephen Blake
Data set downloads = 139 & 110*

Environmental Information Data Centre and Polar Data Centre

Fitness consequences of early life conditions and maternal size effects in a freshwater top predator. (2016) Yngvild Vindenes, Øystein Langangen, Ian J. Winfield, Leif Asbjørn Vøllestad
Data set downloads = 27, 14, 15*

In hot and cold water: differential life-history traits are key to success in contrasting thermal deep-sea environments. (2015) Leigh Marsh, Jonathan T. Copley, Paul A. Tyler, Sven Thatje
Data set downloads = 17

Sensitivity of UK butterflies to local climatic extremes: which life stages are most at risk? (2017) Osgur McDermott Long, Rachel Warren, Jeff Price, Tom M. Brereton, Marc S. Botham, Aldina M. A. Franco
Data set downloads = 5

Ants are the major agents of resource removal from tropical rainforests. (2017) Hannah M. Griffiths, Louise A. Ashton, Alice E. Walker, Fevziye Hasan, Theodore A. Evans, Paul Eggleton and Catherine L. Parr
Data set downloads = 3


Fight-flight or freeze-hide? Personality and metabolic phenotype mediate physiological defence responses in flatfish (2016) Emmanuel J. Rupia, Sandra A. Binning, Dominique G. Roche, Weiqun Lu
Data  set downloads = 64

Conflict and cooperation over sex: the consequences of social and genetic polyandry for reproductive success in dunnocks (2015) Eduardo S. A. Santos, Luana L. S. Santos, Malgorzata Lagisz, Shinichi Nakagawa
Data set downloads = 55

Measuring β-diversity with species abundance data. (2015) Louise J. Barwell, Nick J. B. Isaac, William E. Kunin
Data set downloads = 46

Implications of scaled δ15N fractionation for community predator–prey body mass ratio estimates in size‐structured food webs (2015) Jonathan C. P. Reum, Simon Jennings, Mary E. Hunsicker
Data set downloads = 23

* Some papers in Movebank and the NERC data centres have more than one data package associated with them.

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