Public Release: 

British Library leads the way for sharing data as major institutions sign up to DataCite

BGI Shenzhen

Five major data centres have expanded their commitment to make research data more accessible through the British Library's DataCite service, a global initiative that addresses the problem of how to find, access and re-use the results of research. BGI is the first Asian data centre, alongside the UK based Archaeology Data Service, the UK Data Archive, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Science & Technology Facilities Council that have signed up to the service and are the first institutions to work with the British Library on this initiative.

Data from the participating organisations, which spans information derived from ice cores to gene sequences, cultural heritage to current populations, will be marked with DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) to enable it to be identified and cited, a system which has been widely used to provide persistent links to academic journal articles. This initiative provides a practical solution to one of the most significant challenges facing researchers today - access to data - an issue highlighted by the UK's Royal Society in a report published in June this year, 'Science as an open enterprise', which recommended that scientists should communicate the data they collect in fieldwork and research more widely. The report specifically highlights the first dataset DOI issued by the BGI, the genome of the deadly 2011 outbreak E. coli strain that killed 50 people in Europe, on its front cover and as an example of "the power of intelligently open data".

The benefits for researchers include:

  • Confidence that the link to the data (or information about the data) will be persistently and uniquely identified
  • Increased ease of citing data which will, in turn, increase its discovery and access, enabling others to verify the results and validate their own research
  • Access to a myriad of new research opportunities which have been out-of-reach until now
  • Acknowledgement and credit for sharing data and having it cited

"Enabling researchers to cite data, along with journal articles and other references, is becoming increasingly important, and DataCite has the potential to transform the way scientists communicate their research." said Dr Lee-Ann Coleman, Head of Science, Technology and Medicine at the British Library. "As an institution dedicated to providing information, as well as practical support to researchers, we believe that the British Library DataCite service is addressing some of the barriers to data sharing. We hope that the decision of these five institutions to participate will attract others to become involved, and will mark an important step towards changing community norms about sharing resources."

Professor Wang Jun, Executive Director of the BGI, said: "Being the largest genomics organization and one of the largest producers of biological data in the world, the aim of DataCite to create a scholarly structure that recognises and rewards data producers is very attractive to us. Releasing a number of our previously unpublished datasets with DataCite DOIs has already allowed them to be cited and credited in subsequent publications in high profile journals, such as Nature and Science, and we look forward to finally being able to track and follow our data's ensuing impact." As well as providing an incentive for data producers to release their data more quickly, data citation should also provide better mechanisms for linking and associating datasets to the publications using them, Relevant to this, BGI has launched a new "big-data" journal called GigaScience utilizing this functionality. For more on these developments, data publication and citation will be a topic of discussion at a special session on "Integrating Data & Literature" at BGI's upcoming International Conference on Genomics in Hong Kong on December 1st.


Notes to Editors

BGI was founded in 1999 with the mission of being a premier scientific partner to the global research community. The goal of BGI is to make leading-edge genomic science highly accessible through its investment in infrastructure that leverages the best available technology, economies of scale, and expert bioinformatics resources. BGI, which includes both private non-profit genomic research institutes and sequencing application commercial units, and its affiliates, BGI Americas, headquartered in Cambridge, MA, and BGI Europe, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, have established partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and government research institutions as well as global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, supporting a variety of disease, agricultural, environmental, and related applications. BGI has established a proven track record of excellence, delivering results with high efficiency and accuracy for innovative, high-profile research which has generated over 250 publications in top-tier journals such as Nature and Science. These accomplishments include sequencing one percent of the human genome for the International Human Genome Project, contributing 10 percent to the International Human HapMap Project, carrying out research to combat SARS and German deadly E. coli, playing a key role in the Sino-British Chicken Genome Project, and completing the sequence of the rice genome, the silkworm genome, the first Asian diploid genome, the potato genome, and, most recently, have sequenced the human Gut metagenome, and a significant proportion of the genomes for the 1,000 genomes project. For more information about BGI please visit and follow @BGI_Events

For more information about the British Library DataCite service, visit

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It has the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection, including world-leading scientific, technical and medical information resources. These support researchers engaged in academic, commercial and public service research across all scientific disciplines. The Library runs regular science events and participates in major projects that enable better access to information for researchers, including the British Library DataCite service and UK PubMed Central. and follow @ScienceBL

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