Data Papers are a new type of scholarly articles, which are rapidly gaining momentum in the scientific community. They are peer-reviewed scholarly publications that describe data sets and provide an opportunity for data authors to receive the academic credit through citation and re-use of the published data. Data Papers of this kind have been recently published in cooperation among the international organization Global Biodiversity Information Facilities (GBIF) and the journals ZooKeys and PhytoKeys.
Most online keys to identify biodiversity (e.g., species and genera) are usually based on structured data. There are several software packages to create interactive keys; however a significant deficiency of them is the lack of a permanent scientific record and of a proper citation mechanism. Now, a new initiative is being put forward, for establishing the Online Identification Key (OIK) as a new type of scientific article, that is a derivative of the Data Paper. The model is illustrated by an exemplar paper describing a new software platform for creating online keys, MOSCHweb. The paper and an associated editorial piece are published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
"MOSCHweb is a new software platform that facilitates constructing of online identification keys. Our ZooKeys paper describes the main features of an interactive key to the Euro-Asiatic genera of tachinid flies implemented as an original web application and discusses briefly the advantages of these tools for both biologists and general users", said the lead author Dr Pierfilippo Cerretti from the University of Roma 'La Sapienza'.
"The publication of an online key in the form of a scholarly article is a pragmatic compromise between the dynamic structure of the internet and the static character of scientific articles. The authors of the key will be able to continuously update their product, to the benefit of its users. At the same time, the users will have available a citation mechanism for the online key, identical to that used for any other scientific article, to properly credit its authors" commented Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder and managing director of Pensoft Publishers.
The elaboration of the data paper format was funded in part by the European Union's FP7 project ViBRANT.