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Publishing Open Data in the Plant Sciences

Publishing Open Data in the Plant Sciences

Publishing Open Data in the Plant Sciences

Publishing Open Data in the Plant Sciences

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COPO is a BBSRC funded project, launched in September 2014 with the objective of improving open access to and management of data within plant research.

Effective data usage is currently hindered by a lack of effective descriptions for those data, and an inconsistency across a vast number of tools and services regarding how data is accessed, formatted and cited. By addressing these disparities and enhancing interoperability between public repositories and analytical services, COPO will improve transparency and reproducibility in the plant sciences, helping to facilitate high-quality research.


The two-day workshop was designed to gain greater insight into the types of experiments that biologists are undertaking across a broad set of plant science domains, how datasets are being generated, and the needs of the researchers that use them. This crucial information will be used to guide the creation of a COPO community platform for data sharing, publication and citation. Over the course of the workshop, the focus group discussed various issues including divergent approaches to the description, collection, annotation, standardisation and management of large datasets.

The group examined features of various platforms used within plant science data management and spoke with researchers from different plant science fields to gain an overview of their current requirements and how to avoid and surmount the stumbling blocks when publishing their data.

Robert Davey, Group Leader and COPO PI at TGAC, said: “From the experiences of the workshop participants, it's clear that there are common issues around describing data and making it available to other researchers. Through the technical expertise of the ISA group at Oxford, the EBI, and TGAC, and the essential interactions with the community provided through Warwick and GARNet, we aim to provide plant biologists and bioinformaticians with an intuitive platform to annotate their data with experimental metadata, submit to relevant public repositories, and enable effective downstream data sharing and analysis.”

Ruth Bastow, GARNet Coordinator, University of Warwick, commented: “The workshop illustrated that there is huge amount and variety of data being produced in the plant sciences. However, there are often problems accessing this data and perhaps more importantly making sense of it. To try help overcome these barriers COPO aims to help researchers describe their experiments, methods and data in a standard manner to promote data sharing and reuse.”

Philippe Rocca-Serra, University of Oxford e-Research Centre, added: “We brought together leading experts from an array of domains in plant sciences, analytical techniques and computational biology. All participants engaged enthusiastically in the workshop on the theme of how to improve data stewardship, data access and data publication in the field of plant science. The results and outcomes of the meeting are extremely positive, as patterns have emerged, which we intend to harness for developing the COPO platform. We all look forward to continuing the conversation.”