Objective: Data-sharing plays an essential role in advancing scientific understanding. Here, we aim to identify the commonalities and differences in data-sharing policies endorsed by otolaryngology journals and to assess their adherence to the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) principles.
Methods: Data-sharing policies were searched for among 111 otolaryngology journals, as listed by Scimago Journal & Country Rank. Policy extraction of the top biomedical journals as ranked by Google Scholar metrics were used as a comparison. The FAIR principles for scientific data management and stewardship were used for the extraction framework. This occurred in a blind, masked, and independent fashion.
Results: Of the 111 ranked otolaryngology journals, 100 met inclusion criteria. Of those 100 journals, 79 provided data-sharing policies. There was a clear lack of standardization across policies, along with specific gaps in accessibility and reusability which need to be addressed. Seventy-two policies (of 79; 91%) designated that metadata should have globally unique and persistent identifiers. Seventy-one (of 79; 90%) policies specified that metadata should clearly include the identifier of the data they describe. Fifty-six policies (of 79; 71%) outlined that metadata should be richly described with a plurality of accurate and relevant attributes.
Conclusion: Otolaryngology journals have varying data-sharing policies, and adherence to the FAIR principles appears to be moderate. This calls for increased data transparency, allowing for results to be reproduced, confirmed, and debated.