Research data policy

Data policy FAQs

Do I have to share my data when submitting to a Springer Nature journal?

We strongly encourage that all research data are made available to readers without undue restrictions. For some types of data, submission to a community-endorsed, public repository is mandatory. See our guidance on mandatory data deposition for more information

We recognise that some data, such as data about identifiable human research participants, cannot be shared openly. Where data cannot be shared, an adequate reason should be provided in the Data Availability Statement.

Reviewers and editors may request access to datasets that are not publicly available.

What is a data availability statement and what should it include?

A data availability statement is included in a research article to provide a reader with information on how to access underlying data. This typically includes hyperlinks to publicly archived datasets that were analysed or generated during the study. 
See our guidance on writing a data availability statement for more information.

Do all journals require data availability statements?

All Springer Nature journals will adopt our standard research data sharing policy, requiring data availability statements for original research. This is already in place for Nature and BMC and is being progressively rolled out across Springer and Palgrave journals. Each journal’s policy will be shown in its submission guidelines.

When should I share my data?

Authors are strongly encouraged to make supporting data available as early as possible while respecting research community norms and funder and institution policies. Researchers generally have a right of reasonable first use to data generated during their research. 

Many repositories offer functionality to deposit datasets without making them immediately publicly available. Researchers therefore have the option to deposit data prior to submission of their manuscript, even if they do not want to make their data available until their manuscript is accepted or published. However, reviewers and editors may request access to datasets before this point.

How do I find a repository for my data?

Authors are recommended to use a data repository suitable for their research area and data type. If no specific repository exists there are a number of generalist repositories available that accept data from across disciplines. 

Search for a repository at re3data or FAIRsharing or see our data repository guidance for general advice and examples of appropriate repositories.

Do I have to share my code or other materials in order to publish in a Springer Nature journal?

The focus of this policy framework is on data rather than software but the sharing of software alongside data is also important to support reproducibility and transparency. Many Springer Nature journals also support the use of Code Availability Statements. Please consult the journal’s submission guidance or contact the journal directly for information on code sharing and code availability.

What is the definition of a dataset in this policy?

Research data can take many forms, across the many fields of research covered by journals and books published by Springer Nature. The data sharing policy in general concerns the minimal dataset that supports the central findings of a published study. Specific publications and communities may have more specific standards and definitions, however.

Does the data policy apply to sensitive or personal data and data subject to third party restrictions? How can I share clinical data safely?

The policy applies to all research data that support publications but reasonable restrictions on data availability are permitted to protect human privacy, biosafety or respect reasonable terms of use for data obtained under license from third parties. Our Research Data Helpdesk can provide general advice on publishing articles about different kinds of sensitive data. Also see our guidance on managing sensitive data.

How do I cite research data?

Where datasets are hosted in public repositories that provide datasets with Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), we encourage these datasets to be formally cited in reference lists. Citations of datasets, when they appear in the reference list, should include the minimum information recommended by DataCite (Authors, PublicationYear, Title, Repository, DOI) and follow journal style. For example:

Hao, Z., AghaKouchak, A., Nakhjiri, N., Farahmand, A. Global Integrated Drought Monitoring and Prediction System (GIDMaPS) Data sets. figshare. (2014).

Where datasets are hosted in repositories that do not provide DOIs, datasets should still be formally cited in reference lists where possible. Though it may not be possible to meet all the above criteria, at a minimum, the repository name and accession ID/URL should be included.

This blog provides more information on how to cite data.

Why should I cite research data? 

Citing data in publications supports reproducible research by increasing the transparency and provenance tracking of data generated or analysed during research. Citing data formally in reference lists also helps facilitate the tracking of data reuse and may help assign credit for individuals’ contributions to research. A number of Springer Nature imprints are signatories of the Joint Declaration on Data Citation Principles, which stresses the importance of data resources in scientific communication.