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Data sharing is farther than we thought

​Nature recently published two Letters from The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) that evaluated thousands longitudinal gut metagenomes of children (Nature 562, 583-588; 589–594; 2018), which is largely supported by public funds through NIH. Unfortunately, the results of these papers are not reproducible since the data are not publicly available without restrictions as required by Nature’s own data repository criteria. Reproducibility of published results is a basic tenet of science. Open access to NGS datasets upon publication is widely accepted by molecular biologists (Nature529, 117-119; 2018) and is required by Nature.

The unnecessary restrictions placed on the availability of these datasets are as follows ( (i) the request to become an authorized user and be of tenure-track status; (ii) although all data can be de-identified, documentation of local IRB approval is required; (iii) the requestor and an institutional signing official must be registered on eRA commons; (iv) small/new institutions must provide an information technology security plan; (v) a research use statement is required; (vi) requestor must describe any new analysis tools and how these advance understanding; (vii) a non-technical summary must be provided; and (viii) full contact information of ALL people working with the data including a senior IT official must be provided. Even if all of the above is provided, the request can be denied or delayed. As these papers violate Nature’s own rules for data sharing, these papers should either be rejected or the de-identified data be provided in a means without any of the unnecessary restrictions described above.

We contend that these constitute restrictions that serve only to prevent others from reproducing the results. We reinforce the need of a commitment from the scientific community to make all data freely available. Upon this example, we see the scientific community in a clear learning curve to fully understand the ownership of data and what data sharing represents. In our view, a complete culture shift is necessary to add the real value of data sharing.

Victor Pylro is a Professor from de Biology Department at the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) - Brazil.

Daniel Morais is a Researcher at the Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) - Czech Republic

Luiz Roesch is a Professor at the Federal University of Pampa (UNIPAMPA) - Brazil.

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