Why publish on Wellcome Open Research?

Wellcome Open Research launches today. Jim Smith, Wellcome's new Director of Science, and his colleague Tim Mohun, both based at the Francis Crick Institute, have published an article on the new platform. 

Jim Smith, Wellcome's head of science

They discuss the benefits of publishing on Wellcome Open Research on its blog. This is a shortened version of their discussion…

Wellcome Open Research launches today with its first articles. Why is this significant?

Tim Mohun: Wellcome has invested a great deal of money funding the ‘Deciphering the Mechanisms of Developmental Disorders’ (DMDD) research programme, but because of its nature as an ambitious screening project only a small proportion of that work is ever likely to figure in conventional publications.

All of it has potential value and could be of help or interest to individual researchers. Wellcome Open Research allows us to present our data as a resource for others to use and to provide summaries of our progress as the project proceeds.

Would you encourage other Wellcome grantholders to publish on Wellcome Open Research?

Jim Smith: Speaking both as a researcher and as Wellcome’s new Director of Science, the answer is yes. As a researcher, it is a fantastic way to get your data out there. As a funder, we want to make sure that the work we support is made available to other members of the scientific community as efficiently as possible. Wellcome Open Research is the way to go.

Why did you decide to publish this article on Wellcome Open Research?

Tim: For us, the timing was perfect. We had reached a bit of a milestone in the DMDD project, having analysed a sufficiently large number of different embryonic lethal genes that we could begin to take an overview of the data and draw some initial conclusions. We wanted to share these with the research community as quickly as possible because we think the conclusions are interesting, important and in part puzzling.

There are other studies like DMDD being undertaken or planned internationally and they will be able to learn from our experience. We also wanted to allow others to analyse our data in their own ways.

Our effort is only a first simple attempt and there will no doubt be other ways in which it can be studied which could reveal all sorts of conclusions that we will have missed.

All data used in this study is available from the DMDD website. Why is open data important?

Jim: Conventional publications usually present a synthesis of the work carried out by researchers, and journals will often only publish 'positive results' that conform to a particular hypothesis.

Open data involves making entire datasets available so that other scientists can analyse the results in any way they like, and it also allows the publication of 'negative results' that might not agree with previously published work or might not fit a particular model. This allows us to make the best use of hard-won data, and by publishing negative results it encourages replication and reproducibility.

Tim: We cannot possibly study the embryonic lethal genes in the depth and detail that is needed to fully understand their function. Our job in the DMDD is to identify these genes and then make a first simple attempt at identifying their likely role, through cataloguing what the impact of removing them has on development of the embryo.

This information provides initial clues that researchers can then use to plan more detailed studies. So for us, open data is absolutely essential!

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