News Release

First database-derived 'data paper' published in journal

Peer-reviewed description of Indian bird dataset published through GBIF sets precedent for data-sharing incentives

Business Announcement

Global Biodiversity Information Facility

The first-ever peer-reviewed paper derived directly from a biodiversity metadata document has been published in the open-access ZooKeys journal.

The description of more than 2,400 bird records from northeast India, spanning almost a century, is the outcome of a new 'Data Paper' workflow pioneered by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Pensoft publishers.

The aim is to provide incentives for those compiling data records about the occurrence of species to make their existence known to the scientific community, thus helping to increase knowledge about biodiversity and inform conservation measures.

A Data Paper is produced when metadata (data about data) are compiled using the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) generating a manuscript that then goes through the usual critical review process before being accepted for publication.

In this case, a team led by Sujit Narwade of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), described a dataset of bird observations in eleven Indian states between 1909 and 2008, centred on the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot. They were derived from references in scholarly literature, mainly the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society (JBNHS).

The paper, entitled Literature based species occurrence data of birds of northeast India [] is published in the 150th issue of ZooKeys, and describes which bird families are included in the dataset, as well as the range of dates, coordinates and altitudes of the occurrences, among other information.

It links directly to the metadata document published to the GBIF network [] and to the full dataset published according the Darwin Core Archive standard by the Wildlife Institute of India, the GBIF National Node (see dataset displayed on the GBIF Data Portal) [] .

The Data Paper underwent a rigorous review process lasting nearly three months before being accepted for publication in ZooKeys. The reviewers not only addressed the metadata description, but also suggested improvements to the dataset itself, adding a layer of quality control to the data available to users of GBIF web services.

The Executive Secretary of GBIF, Nicholas King, commented: "Data Papers are envisaged as a way of incentivizing the publishing of biodiversity metadata by giving due recognition to the authors, enabling their valuable contribution to science to be cited and acknowledged at the same level as any study accepted into a scientific journal.

"This experience to date has revealed an additional benefit: the critical review process can help to enhance the quality of the biodiversity data published through the GBIF network, meeting a major objective as the volume of data shared continues to expand.

"We hope that more data publishers will take advantage of the Data Paper tool developed by GBIF and Pensoft, fulfilling the vital need for metadata to enable biodiversity datasets to be discovered, as well as setting an example for other academic publishers to follow in raising the status of data publishing."

Lyubomir Penev, ZooKeys Managing Editor, added: "We are very pleased to have been able to facilitate this important step for biodiversity data publishing. We congratulate Sujit Narwade and his team for having been the first to bring a Data Paper from the GBIF IPT to press, and we will shortly be publishing several other Data Papers currently in the pipeline."


Part of the work on the Data Paper project was carried out within the European Union's Virtual Biodiversity Research and Access Network initiative (ViBRANT) [] ).

Instructions on how to author a Data Paper can by found in guidelines issued by Pensoft publishers at, and GBIF is currently developing a new best practice guide based on the review experience of the first group of papers.

In the meantime, those needing specific advice should contact:

Vishwas Chavan
GBIF Secretariat

or Lyubomir Penev

For more general inquiries, including press and media, please contact:

Tim Hirsch
GBIF Secretariat

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