I find figshare a great idea for using and sharing results and data that do not fit the “system”. These can be of great use by others. I use figshare and have already posted some forgotten files from the past (see http://figshare.com/authors/Aristotelis%20C.%20Papageorgiou/101326). These files are results that were not published in a journal before. I discovered full papers that were included in project reports, conference contributions that were not published, nice posters and presentations that can be useful to others preparing teaching material. These results and scientific products are not leftovers or rubbish of lower quality. They just did not fit in some publications prepared.
Let me use an example. My PhD (1995) produced 4 research papers and several conference contributions. I extracted results and prepared papers that the journals usually publish: target oriented, focused and brief. A whole part of the PhD research output was never published. Why? If it would be merged with other results it would produce too heavy and loaded manuscripts. Alone, these results would be too isolated and specific. The central idea of the PhD was already published as a conclusion of other papers. These results do not fit the “system”, thus they cannot produce something that the standard journals would prefer. However, these are nice results. based on good sampling and analysis techniques, they give clear and sound conclusions. I was always thinking of publishing them, but I never had time or courage to find a way to produce a “compatible” manuscript. After discovering figshare, I just put the results together and prepared a manuscript that explains why and how this research is done, presents all data in long boring tables and lists the major conclusions of the research. This was done in a few hours and the manuscript had a place on the net, a DOI and a dissemination mechanism that would never enjoy if published in any other mainstream journal. I am as proud for this paper as much as I am for the ones published in mainstream journals.
I encourage colleagues to dig in their computers and publish all their results through figshare. Publish posters and presentations from conferences. Publish initial manuscripts that you have submitted and then had to change severely to satisfy reviewers and editors. Publish the theoretical background of your work or some thoughts you may have about your field. Use your raw data to connect with others and why not prepare joint new analysis!
figshare can become a teaching tool as well. I encourage students to publish their essays, posters, reviews and other things they prepare for courses. They can also publish initial results from their diploma or MSc theses. This will give them an initial publishing experience and the satisfaction that their work is read, used and cited.
Also read: Figshare – A New Way to Share Your Research
In today’s scientific realm, a large amount of the research being conducted is never published in any way. Unpublished research could include negative data, unexplained observations, or simply data that are not deemed “interesting” enough to any journal. Given the continued reduction in research funding in many areas around the world, should investigators waste their time on research that may have already been done (but not published)? What if researchers could easily publish data that would otherwise be simply left alone and never shared? And what if those data could be accessed, reused, and cited by others?
Figshare offers an effective solution to the issue of the incredible amounts of unpublished data sitting on researchers’ computers around the world. At figshare, researchers can sign up for free accounts and upload data in any file format (common uploads include figures, posters, full manuscripts, raw data sets, and videos). All data are published immediately under a Creative Commons license, allowing for instantaneous discovery by anyone around the world. Perhaps more importantly, each contribution is given its own digital object identifier (DOI), a unique identifying code that provides a permanent link to the file in question. DOIs are found with increasing frequency in reference lists, meaning that items on figshare can be cited easily in peer-reviewed literature if desired.
The next time you have data to share but do not want to expend the effort of writing a manuscript and fighting through the publication process, consider alternative options like figshare. Remember that other scientists may take your smaller contribution and use it for something much greater, and they’ll be able to cite you if they do!