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Announcing a joint effort to improve research transparency: FAIRSharing and TOP Guidelines

September 13th, 2019,

FAIRsharing and the Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines (TOP) are two community efforts that aim to increase the number of journal and research funder policies that effectively incentivize data sharing, among other goals. Based at the University of Oxford in the UK, FAIRsharing is a curated, informative and educational resource on data and metadata standards, repositories and data policies, and the relationships between them.

FAIRsharing and the Center for Open Science aim to advance and enable open and FAIR research and are happy to announce an effort to jointly achieve their shared goals. 

Toward this end, we are carrying out a joint project to increase both the number and clarity of journal and research funder policies that effectively incentivize data sharing. The TOP Guidelines consist of eight specific standards that funders and publishers of scientific research can use to implement better research practices. And the FAIRsharing registry helps to bring clarity and discoverability to existing data policies. By working together, these two organizations can classify the recommendations these policies contain to improve their definition, allow comparison between them, and ultimately improve the clarity of guidance to the research community.

The activities will be phased. Initially, an exemplar set of policies, already in FAIRsharing, will be commonly curated and their compliance to the TOP Data Transparency standard will be assessed; a mechanism will be developed to display the level of compliance in FAIRsharing. Progressively, the work will expand to cover more policies; additional sorting and discovery features will be added to help users find and compare policies.

An example of the first phase of this work can be found at the FAIRSharing registry entry for the PLOS Recommended Repositories Data Policy. This journal has a data sharing policy that complies with “Level II” of the TOP Guidelines, which specifies that data must be shared in a repository as a condition of publication (with exceptions permitted for ethical or legal constraints). 

By working together to bring additional clarity to the policies that comply with best practices in data transparency policies, both entities hope to spur action to increase adoption of these policies.

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