If someone publishes a species revision with distribution maps but without publishing all the data used in the paper itself - or in an attached or linked-to file - are the authors nevertheless required to make all the data necessary to the paper publicly available on request?

I'm assuming they are as this makes sense from an accountability & replicability perspective (and nonsense of the idea of "publication" otherwise?) - but it's not clear to me from searching online.

Thank you!

  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, there are no general rules for this cases. It depends on the journals rules... $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 3, 2017 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


No - you're not entitled to anything. Authors may refuse to share because they want to control future publications arising from their data, either simply to inflate their own publication record or to prevent certain types of anlaysis of their data (see the 'data parasites' fiasco last year for an example of attitudes towards data sharing in some parts of the medical community - this, this, and others).

Alternatively they may simply no longer have the data. Nowadays this is less common, but if you contact an author about a publication from the 1960s it's pretty unlikely that any unpublished data is still in usable form.

Finally, certain aspects of data may not even have been recorded. Before GPS was widely used, accurate lat-longs of collection sites are unlikely to have been measured. As @Kara notes in the comments, it is not uncommon for the collection sites of older samples to be recorded at the country level.

This is why journals are increasingly adopting data-sharing policies (see BES, for example)

However, many authors are happy to share their data, and you lose nothing by asking. Good luck!

  • $\begingroup$ Just also wanted to add/re-iterate that in some cases, if the author was referring to old museum material during the revision, accurate lat-long information may be completely unavailable. Some older (1800s) specimens I've worked with in museums have only been labeled "India". $\endgroup$
    – Kara
    Apr 4, 2017 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Kara good point - I'll add it in. $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Apr 4, 2017 at 8:30

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