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Data Policy

The Geological Society of London (GSL) supports the open accessibility, findability, interoperability, reusability and preservation of geoscience data (in any form, e.g. scans, 3D models) and software in order to benefit researchers, the scientific research community and the public, and to comply with funder mandates.

The Geological Society of London endorses FORCE11’s Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles and is also a co-signatory on the Statement of Commitment for the Coalition for Publishing Data in the Earth and Space Sciences.


GSL encourages authors to deposit data, software and samples/sample descriptions in trusted FAIR-aligned repositories (e.g. those using CoreTrustSeal certification) that:

  • Provide unique and persistent identifiers, i.e. a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).
  • Provide long-term preservation.
  • Are openly accessible: all should be able to access the data at no charge.
  • Ensure accessibility via citations/references and discoverability using metadata.

Such repositories include those listed at re3data and FAIRsharing. Where possible GSL also encourages placement of important geoscience samples in long-term and well-documented repositories or collections, such as at museums, geological surveys or universities.

Where it is not feasible or practical to store data in community-approved repositories or where no funding-body repository exists, authors should deposit their datasets in a general repository, such as figshare or Dryad. GSL recognises that research funding may be associated with requirements to use specific repositories and respects all data management plans submitted to funding bodies.

Data Availability Statements

Our published articles contain Data Availability Statements in which authors must state how their data can be accessed by others. Authors are asked for this information as part of the submission and peer review process. We aim to ensure that the data supporting the findings of a paper are publicly available whenever possible. Authors can choose from the following or write their own statement:

  • The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the [NAME] repository, [PERSISTENT WEB LINK TO DATASETS].
  • The data that support the findings of this study are available from [THIRD PARTY NAME] but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under licence for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of [THIRD PARTY NAME].
  • The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due to [REASON(S) WHY DATA ARE NOT PUBLIC] but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
  • All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article (and if present, its supplementary information files).
  • Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

If required during the review process, authors must provide datasets to the Editor or editorial staff upon request even if authors intend to share them on publication. GSL also informs its editors and reviewers of this Data Policy.

Data citation

GSL supports the aims of DataCite and FORCE11’s Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles in that data should be considered citable products of research.

GSL authors are encouraged to consider data as citable products of research and to cite data within articles, following FORCE11’s Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles. Further information about how to cite data items is available via our instructions for authors.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary Material is supporting material that cannot be included within the article due to restrictions on space, file size or format. GSL has its own figshare portal in which article Supplementary Material is hosted. figshare-hosted Supplementary Material is free and openly available to all according to the same principles that apply to data repositories (above).

Further information about Supplementary Material can be found on our Supplementary Publications page and you can also read our instructions for authors for producing Supplementary Material.

Resources and further information

Citing Data


Supplementary Material

Data Sharing

Data deposited in a repository

GSL’s preference is that authors deposit their data in a suitable repository (see ‘Repositories’ above).

Access to data is restricted

When the data are not freely available, the authors should provide an explanation and details of any restrictions on access. Acceptable justifications for restricting access may include legal and ethical concerns, such as third-party rights and commercial confidentiality.

Data available on request

Authors can also make data available on request. Authors should provide appropriate contact details. When authors have used third-party data (i.e. from another individual or source) and do not own the data, this source must be credited as appropriate and details of how to access the data should be given.

Institutional and funders' policies

Authors should always follow the policies of their institutions and funders, including any mandates or restrictions on data sharing. If the data belong to an institution or third party, the author must secure permission to publish and/or share the data and provide appropriate attribution. Authors should anonymise data to protect privacy, where necessary.

Please also see Research Councils’ ‘Why Share Data?’.


Why share data?

A growing number of funders support data sharing. For instance, any articles based on research funded in whole or in part by UKRI must include, if applicable, a statement on how the underlying research materials can be accessed.

There are many advantages to sharing data, other than meeting journal and funder requirements, including:

  • Making authors’ articles more discoverable
  • Attracting more usage of authors’ articles
  • Providing extra context to the article
  • Improving reproducibility of published research

What kind of data should be made available?

All supporting data sets for your article, positive and negative, should be made available, such that it is possible to reproduce all the calculations included in your article.

What about source code for software?

Source code should be made available under an Open Source licence and the source code included in the Supplementary Material. Please read FORCE11's Software Citation Principles and ESIP guidelines.

Are there exceptions to data sharing?

Authors will be given a choice of Data Accessibility Statement and should choose the most relevant to their circumstances. If authors feel that their data set contains information that should not be made publicly available, please choose the most suitable statement. Alternatively, it is possible to write a bespoke statement.

Where should I deposit my data?

Authors should always follow the policies of their institutions and funders, including any mandates or restrictions on data sharing. Data should be available in a recognised FAIR-aligned repository (preferably using CoreTrustSeal certification). Recognised repositories carry benefits such as allowing the data to be stored in native formats, maximising the potential for analysis, reuse and verification. They also make it easier for users to search, filter and analyse the data.

Lists of data repositories are provided at re3data and FAIRsharing. If there is no specifically appropriate data repository available, please deposit your data in a generic repository, such as figshare or Dryad.

When should I deposit my data?

Please deposit your data on submission of your article and embargo the data until publication of the article.

How can my data be used?

All objects are licensed under CC-BY license, except for datasets for which the CC0 license is more appropriate. By licensing research outputs under CC-BY, the data are openly available, but it requires others to give the author credit, in the form of a citation, should they distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially.

CC0 enables creators and owners of content to place them as completely as possible in the public domain so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law. No attribution is required.

What if my data are multidisciplinary and are best deposited in two or more repositories?

This is acceptable and authors should work with repositories to ensure the data are appropriately connected. The divided data may have separate DOIs, and the description of each data set should provide a reference to the paper and other data.

Why is submitting data to a repository and adding a data citation to my references better than putting my data into the body of the manuscript or in the supplementary material?

Repositories manage data, ensuring that data discovery and access are maintained over time, and also provide numerous other services to enable analysis and visualisation. Data citation, like the citation of other evidence and sources, is good research practice and is part of the scholarly ecosystem supporting data reuse.

Data citations allow credit to the provider of the data in the same way that citations to manuscripts provide credit to their authors. Data citation also enables initiatives like Scholix to provide information on existing links between scholarly literature and data via the query service, thus improving data findability.

What data should be cited? Just my new data or only the data that I have reused from others?

All data used in the publication should be cited in the references, just like you would reference another paper. The Data Availability Statement should indicate the location of all necessary data. Further information about how to cite data items is available via our author instructions.

Why are software citations important?

Software citations provide a means to reference software and provide credit to developers. A set of community principles has been developed for software citations by the FORCE11 Software Citations Working Group. Software citations should be cited on the same basis as any other research product, such as a paper or a book, i.e. authors should cite the appropriate set of software products just as they cite the appropriate set of papers.

What repository can I use for my software?

Any repository that stores software can be used, including Zenodo, figshare and institutional repositories such as Caltech’s Research Data Repository. These repositories will provide a globally unique identifier, such as a DOI, for the specific version of the software that is archived, along with metadata about the software. The globally unique identifier will resolve to a landing page that contains the metadata in human- and machine-readable form, and also includes a link to the archived software.

How should I describe my physical samples and make them available?

Samples in the Earth, planetary and environmental sciences can include drill cores, rocks, soil samples, mineral specimens, water, solid ice, air samples, fossils, meteorites or others. A good place to start is to work with a museum, national repository, or other sample curation organisations that curate collections of samples like yours.

A standard system including a globally unique, persistent identifier has been developed to describe diverse samples: this International Geo Sample Number (IGSN) can be used for both larger samples (e.g. entire drill cores) and subsamples (e.g. grain-size fractions, splits/pieces, mineral separates, etc.) derived from these. If you wish to obtain IGSNs for your samples, you can register them by visiting the resources page of the IGSN website.

Use of the IGSN allows discovery and integration of data for samples reported in different publications and other online resources. GSL encourages the use of IGSNs (in discussion with the relevant sample curation organisation) and if included they should be listed in manuscript data tables and descriptions as well as in related data set metadata.

It is best to create or reserve IGSNs at the start of a project when you are collecting samples, but they can be obtained later as well even after the project has been completed.

Do I need to make my physical samples openly available?

Many Earth science samples are collected after considerable effort and may represent valuable and rare archives (e.g. rare fossils, ice cores or planetary samples). Ideally, these should be curated at a public facility that provides standard protocols for curation and access to preserve a portion of key samples for future research.

However, we appreciate that many museums and facilities are restricted in how many and which samples they can accept and curate; therefore, researchers are encouraged to check with their institutions for curation of research samples that cannot be included. GSL recognises that samples may be re-used on several projects, but encourages researchers to prepare for curation at the stage where the samples are no longer being actively used.

Approved by Publications and Information Committee, 16 March 2015
Updated: 23 March 2020