The role of the data paper in scholarly communication

Peter T. Darch, Chenyue Jiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data sharing and reuse promise many benefits to science, but many researchers are reluctant to share and reuse data. Data papers, published as peer-reviewed articles that provide descriptive information about specific datasets, are a potential solution as they may incentivize sharing by providing a mechanism for data producers to get citation credit and support reuse by providing contextual information about dataset production. Data papers can receive many citations. However, does citation of a data paper mean reuse of the underlying dataset? This paper presents preliminary findings from a content-based citation analysis of data papers (n = 103) published in two specialized data journals, one in earth sciences and one in physical and chemical sciences. We conclude that while the genre of data papers facilitates some data sharing and reuse, they fail to live up to their full potential. Further, practices of reuse of datasets from data papers vary considerably between disciplines. We propose measures for academic publishers to enhance the data paper's role in scholarly communication to attract more attention from researchers and to inform discipline-specific policy and practices related to data publication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere316
JournalProceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • data citation
  • data paper
  • data reuse
  • data sharing
  • scholarly communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Library and Information Sciences


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