News Release

Promoting transparency and sharing in transportation research - data and code disclosure and sharing policy of Communications in Transportation Research

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Tsinghua University Press

Reproducibility problems of research

image: Reproducibility problems of research view more 

Credit: Caltech

As one of the pioneers in transportation research journals, open-access and peer-review journal Communications in Transportation Research (COMMTR) implements data and code closure and sharing policy to secure replication and high qualities of published articles, and to promote research resource sharing in the community of Transportation Engineering.


They published their study on March 09, 2022, in Communications in Transportation Research.


If all the scientific works should share some central tenets, replicability and inspiring further research by sharing are definitely two indispensable components.


Replicability guarantees the reliability and soundness of a new scientific discovery. Assuring replicability is especially imperative for the current research in Transportation Engineering, as current research is generally based on sophisticated modeling, computational analysis, and various data sources. Just to name a few, machine learning for demand/traffic state prediction and optimization based on big data; experiment data and econometric models for driving and travel behavior analysis; transport planning and operation optimization; simulations for traffic flow studies. Because of the intricacy of used methods, many published articles do not report sufficient technical details in the manuscript for other researchers to thoroughly validate and accurately reproduce the main results. These absolutely hamper disseminating high-quality transportation research and potentially hasten misconduct and fraud.


“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Mr. Isaac Newton (1676). The target of academic publication is to facilitate dissemination of new discoveries and methods, enable timely practical implementation, and enhance further research. However, these cannot be well accomplished without sharing research data and materials publicly. Sharing data and research materials with open sources can facilitate new and deeper collaboration, cross-validations among researchers, and mutually reciprocal research environments and communities. On account of the benefits of sharing data and research materials, many funding agencies and journals worldwide have been implementing and promoting data sharing or corresponding policies. Some journals in psychological, economic and management research communities have already mandated data sharing for publishing articles.


Although promoting replicability and research resource sharing are very crucial for the current research in Transportation Engineering, two tenets have been overlooked by the transportation research community due to practical and technical dilemmas. Therefore, COMMTR enforces Data and Code Disclosure and Sharing Policy to guarantee and give instructions for authors to provide indispensable materials along with the manuscript. These allow other researchers to reproduce and extend published works in COMMTR. For accepted articles, the authors are obligated to provide all necessary materials (e.g., raw, secondary, or processed data, programs, experiment information, and simulation details) required for reproducing the main results. Meanwhile, a corresponding description file regarding the procedures to replicate results must be provided. The replication package (materials and description file) will be reviewed by specific data editors of COMMTR, published, and accessible to all readers. The policy is supposed to be beneficial for rigor and transparency of articles, contributing valuable materials to the relevant research community, enhancing authors’ credibility.


About Communications in Transportation Research


Communications in Transportation Research (COMMTR) is an open-access and peer-reviewed journal, collaborated by Tsinghua University Press and Elsevier. COMMTR publishes high-quality research representing essential advances of significance to emerging transport systems. The mission is to provide fair, fast, and expert peer review to authors and insightful theories, impactful advances, and interesting discoveries to readers. COMMTR is one of the pioneers in transportation journals to mandate the Replication Package. COMMTR welcomes submissions of significant and general topics, of inter-disciplinary nature (transport, civil, control, artificial intelligence, social science, psychological science, medical services, etc.), of the complex and inter-related system of systems, of strong evidence of data strength, of visionary analysis and forecasts towards the way forward, and of potentially implementable and utilizable policies/practices. At its discretion, Tsinghua University Press will pay the open access fee for all published papers from 2021 to 2025.


About Tsinghua University Press


Established in 1980, belonging to Tsinghua University, Tsinghua University Press (TUP) is a leading comprehensive higher education and professional publisher in China. Committed to building a top-level global cultural brand, after 41 years of development, TUP has established an outstanding managerial system and enterprise structure, and delivered multimedia and multi-dimensional publications covering books, audio, video, electronic products, journals and digital publications. In addition, TUP actively carries out its strategic transformation from educational publishing to content development and service for teaching & learning and was named First-class National Publisher for achieving remarkable results.


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