It has been brought to my attention that Science has formal policies on data archiving. The author of the email, who requested confidentiality, argued that this disproved my statement:
Having acknowledged that, the underlying issue is that Science does not seem to either have policies that require authors to archive data or administration practices that ensure that their policies are applied. Since NSF then relies ( a reliance which seems to me to be an abdication of their own separate responsibilities) on journals like Science, with either inadequate policy or inadequate administration, there’s a knock-on effect.
Given that Thompson had not archived anything on Dunde, Guliya or Dasuopu until I started pressing last year, I fail to see how the existence of stated policies at Science contradicts my claim. For unique data sets like Thompson’s (for the collection of which Thompson has been justly praised), nothing but complete archiving of all sample measurements will be adequate. Problems with archiving with climate articles published in Science by Cook have been reported here before; Hans Erren has experienced problems with Luterbacher as well.
For what it’s worh, Science’s data archiving policies say the following here:
When a paper is accepted for publication in Science, it is understood that: * Any reasonable request for materials, methods, or data necessary to verify the conclusions of the experiments reported must be honored.
Elsewhere, they say:
Science supports the efforts of databases that aggregate published data for the use of the scientific community. Therefore, before publication, large data sets (including microarray data, protein or DNA sequences, and atomic coordinates or electron microscopy maps for macromolecular structures) must be deposited in an approved database and an accession number provided for inclusion in the published paper. Large data sets with no appropriate approved repository must be housed as supporting online material at Science, or when this is not possible, on the author’s web site, provided a copy of the data is held in escrow at Science to ensure availability to readers. For answers to questions regarding allowable supporting online material, please see our guidelines; further questions can be directed to Stewart Wills, Online Editor.
Finally their FAQ for authors says:
What’s the policy on publication of data sets? As a condition of publication, authors must agree to honor any reasonable request for materials and methods necessary to verify the conclusions of experiments reported, and must also agree to make the data upon which the study rests available to the scientific community in some form for purposes of verification and replication. As a practical matter, for large data sets such as DNA and protein sequences, microarray data, and crystal structures, this generally means deposition of the data before publication in an approved public database such as GenBank, SwissPROT, or PDB, with the accession numbers provided for inclusion in the published paper. (Coordinates must be released at the time of publication.) A list of acceptable databases can be found here. Other data needed to demonstrate or support conclusions of a paper can be posted on Science Online as supporting online material, where they can be viewed free of charge by all visitors to the site.
I guess the problem pertains to administration rather than the lack of stated policies. Pretty policies mean nothing if you either can’t or don’t administer them. If Science is unable to administer as simple a protocol as the above policy on data archiving, I hope that they refrain from criticizing other people’s attempts to administer more complicated systems until they get their own house in order. If they write any more letters to Barton or hysterical editorials, I hope that there is an accompanying letter stating how they plan to get their own mess in order.