Maxine Clarke, Publishing Executive Editor of Nature and blogger of Peer-to-Peer got interested in the problem of “supporting information” and in the idea of an open access, peer-review supporting information aggregator website. She shared with me her valuable thoughts and informations by mail, from which I now publish parts with the permission of Maxine Clarke (emphasis by me).
On the possibility of a community-approved public multimedia site (videos, audios, pictures) with open access supporting information from peer-review journals.
It would indeed be nice for authors and readers to have such a facility. If there were to be a multimedia database, accepted by the community, we’d be happy to consider making deposition mandatory. Our principle is that data described in our papers are freely available, so if there were a community-approved public multimedia site, which included annotatation and curation, we’d be happy to consider making it a condition of publication for movies etc to be deposited in it. It would need to be publisher-independent to work, so that authors could upload multimedia data wherever they’d published their paper.
The main point for us at Nature is that as a publisher we have to be confident that material published off our website is properly curated, archived and preserved. For example, when we introduced the microarray deposition policy we ensured that there was full community support for the two databases (in one of which, authors’ choice, we require deposition) before implementing the policy. So for this video idea to work, the “database” concerned would need to be publicly accessible (not commercial), curated, annotated etc.
On the status of online supporting information at Nature:
Supplementary Information on the Nature website is free, though you have to register. (Confirmed, see screenshot of a 3D supplementary animation showing that the gut-associated lymphoid tissue comprised of different subsets of haematopoietic cells, Veiga-Fernandes et al.)
On the problem and handling of online supporting information:
Much “SI” is data required by the referees. As a publisher we think about this issue a lot. At the moment, Nature does various things: details of methods are pubished as an integral part of the online PDF and the full-text (HTML) version, but not the print; SI that is in “flat” format is merged into a single PDF for ease of reading; as you say you can’t do this for multimedia and editable formats, so we provide a webpage with any software downloads necessary for viewing or listening on the same page (which includes the PDF of the “flat” SI; and we make SI free access as it usually contains data.
Nature’s own data practice:
At Nature (and the Nature journals), we make authors deposit data (eg sequences, structures, microarrays) when there is a public database (annotated and curated) available, and the accession number is provided in the paper.
Current Nature policies:
Our current policies are at: http://www.nature.com/authors/editorial_policies/availability.html if you’d care to look; in some of the newer cases we have introduced a policy on one Nature journal and are inviting comments from the community before deciding whether to extend the policy to all. Links are provided at this URL.