Data papers

Getting scholarly recognition for your datasets

Map excerpt from data paper "GPS tracking data of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls breeding at the southern North Sea coast" by Stienen et al published 2016 in Zookeys.
Map excerpt from data paper by Stienen et al. in Zookeys describing a bird tracking dataset.

Data paper webinar

A recorded webinar introducing data papers and providing helpful guidelines and tips for writing them is available from here.

What is a data paper?

A data paper is a peer reviewed document describing a dataset, published in a peer reviewed journal. It takes effort to prepare, curate and describe data. Data papers provide recognition for this effort by means of a scholarly article.

Data papers explained

A data paper is a searchable metadata document, describing a particular dataset or a group of datasets, published in the form of a peer-reviewed article in a scholarly journal.

Unlike a conventional research article, the primary purpose of a data paper is to describe data and the circumstances of their collection, rather than to report hypotheses and conclusions.

GBIF has been working with partners in academic publishing to promote the data paper as a means of bringing credit and recognition to all those involved in data publication; to alert the scientific community to the existence of biodiversity datasets and the value they can bring to particular research projects; and as a mechanism for quality assessment and control of data accessible through GBIF and other networks.

View bibliography of all data papers publishing data to the GBIF network

Why publish data papers?

Authoring clear, informative metadata is an essential step if biodiversity data are going to be discovered and used to inform research and decisions. This involves extra work, and data publishers need incentives to do it. In the absence of such incentives, too many datasets are published with poorly-documented metadata or, worse still, no metadata at all.

Data papers help to overcome barriers to authoring of metadata by providing clear acknowledgement of all those involved in the collection, management, curation and publishing of biodiversity data.

By publishing a data paper, you will:

  • Receive credit through indexing and citation of the published paper, in the same way as with any conventional scholarly publication, offering benefits to authors in terms of recognition and career building
  • Increase the visibility, usability and credibility of the data resources you publish
  • Track more effectively the usage and citations of the data you publish.

Data paper tools

GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT)

GBIF has worked with Pensoft Publishers to develop a workflow for generating a data paper manuscript using the GBIF Metadata Profile, provided as part of the Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). At a click of a button you can download the metadata as an RTF-formatted manuscript ready for editing and submission for peer review following the normal procedures of any journal accepting this kind of publication (see table below).


This tool created by SiBBr extracts metadata from a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), and creates a manuscript in RTF format ready for editing and submission.

arpha Writing Tool

The arpha Writing Tool further simplifies the process of publishing a data papers. Metadata from a dataset can be uploaded, and the entire process from collaborative writing, commenting, and editing, over submission and peer review, to publication and post-publication revising is handled in one web-based tool. Detailed instructions on importing metadata from IPT-hosted datasets are available.

The arpha Writing Tool currently supports direct submission to Biodiversity Data Journal.

Journals that publish biodiversity-related data papers

Please notify us at with corrections or updates.

Journal Publisher Open Access APC estimate Impact factor (2016)
Arxius de Miscel·lània Zoològica Nat Hist Museum of Barcelona Yes €0 -
Biodiversity Data Journal Pensoft Yes €300 -
Biogeographia eScholarship Yes €0 -
BioInvasions Records REABIC Journals Yes €600 0.835
BioRisk Pensoft Yes €300 -
Biota Colombiana Humboldt Institute, Colombia Yes €0 -
BMC Ecology Biomed Central Yes €1,745 2.896
BMC Plant Biology Biomed Central Yes €1,745 3.964
Botanical Studies SpringerOpen Yes €600 1.452
Check List Biotaxa Yes €27 -
China Scientific Data Chinese Academy of Sciences Yes €458 -
Data in Brief Elsevier Yes €458 -
Data MDPI Open Access Journals Yes €0 -
Earth System Science Data Copernicus GmbH Yes €0 6.696
Ecological Research Wiley, for The Ecological Society of Japan Yes TBD 1.283
F1000 Research F1000 Research Ltd Yes €917 -
The Freshwater Metadata Journal Univ of Nat Res & Life Sci, Vienna Yes €0 -
Geoscience Data Journal Wiley (on behalf of RMetS) Yes €1,200 2.800
GigaScience Oxford University Press Yes €924 6.871
MycoKeys Pensoft Yes €550 3.000
Nature Conservation Pensoft Yes €550 1.355
NeoBiota Pensoft Yes €550 -
PhytoKeys Pensoft Yes €550 1.116
PLOS ONE Plos Yes €1,370 2.806
Scientific Data Nature Publishing Group Yes €1,050 4.836
Taxon Internat. Assoc. Plant Taxonomists (IAPT) Yes €1,800 2.450
ZooKeys Pensoft Yes €550 1.031
Annals of Forest Science Springer Optional €2,200 2.357
Global Ecology and Biogeography Wiley Optional €1,530 6.045
Ecological Archives Ecological Society of America No €229 -

* estimate in Euros based on 5,000 words or 15 pages

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