A new form of support for Open Science in SCIndeks: Publishing primary data and attachments to the articles

In an effort to support the development of Open Science in Serbia (MPNTR, 2018) and help national journals to adapt modern publishing requirements, CEON/CEES decided to support linking articles in SCIndeks - Serbian Citation Index with additional content: open (primary) data and open materials (attachments), i.e. to those offered by the authors for publication in the open regime. For technical reasons, this solution will be available only to journals that are edited under SCIndeks Assistant and have defined editorial policy in SCIndeks that applies to it. Support will include:

  1. a standardized model of the policy of publishing primary data and other materials to scientific articles built into the existing editorial policy;
  2. implementation of operations in SCIndeks Assistant that enable submission of additional contents to the manuscript, their upload in the appropriate repository, and their integration with the metadata of articles in SCIndeks;
  3. in the pilot phase, technical support to SCIndeks journals to work with additional content.

Primary data and attachments to the articles

Authors are often forced to offer certain content as a supplement to the article, either because of the usual restrictions regarding the allowed space, or because of the specificity of the media on which such content is located. These are contents that are not crucial for the fundamental goal of the paper, but provide useful additional information, complete the insight into the method and results of the research and thus, in some cases, create conditions for its replication. At the same time, they serve as an example to other authors and encourage further research in a particular scientific field. As a rule, primary data have the form of tabular representations, while attachments are most often given in the form of graphic, audio, and video recordings.

Although a large number of journals still use a variety of non-standard practices when it comes to publishing primary data and contributions, the need to deposit such materials in repositories that meet FAIR principles has prevailed (Wilkinson et al., 2016). In addition to a large number of thematic repositories specializing in certain areas, general, free international repositories are often used, such as Figshare, which CEON/CEES opted for, Zenodo or the Open Science Framework.

The term FAIR was defined in 2014 and implies the principles that adhere to the (F) - findability, (A) - accessibility (A), (I) – interoperability, and (R) - reuse ( FORCE11, n.d.). The FAIR principles emphasise the capacity of computational systems to make use of data with none or minimal human intervention because of increased need for automation as a result of the increase in volume, complexity, and creation speed of data.

Figshare enables the deposit, storage, and dissemination of various types of materials: data sets, manuscripts, books, computer code, photographs, and other materials (Figshare, n.d.). The deposited materials are described by metadata and grouped by categories. Figshare automatically assigns DOI to deposited materials, allowing them to be more visible and easier to cite. Each file is cited as a separate, stand-alone publication.

Contribution to open science

By attaching primary data, an insight into the methodology and concept of work creation is provided. This increases the chances of the manuscript being considered by the editors and accepted for publication (Flanagin et al., 2018). After publication, such an article is accepted with greater confidence, which further affects the citation rate of both the article itself and additional files. The practice of publishing primary data encourages the development of a given scientific field, since other researchers are able to reproduce certain procedures for the needs of their research. Repeatability of research (reproducibility) is one of the pillars on which the scientific method is based, and it is directly achieved through free and open access to the results of scientific research, which is the fundamental postulate of Open Science. Free access also defines data evidence collection and the course of  the research, which sometimes needs to be submitted to justify financial support for research.

CEON/CEES decided to provide support for this innovation in two ways: (1) by encouraging editors to adopt and declare it within their publishing policies and (2) by adding additional content to the appropriate repository in a standard internationally accepted manner. By applying this practice, SCIndeks journals would join the latest global efforts to improve communication and acceptance of scientific results, primarily from the point of view of transparency and openness. This would certainly increase the reputation of national journals on a wider international level.

Implementation in SCIndeks

After accepting the paper for publication, additional contents are deposited in the Figshare, in order to become publicly available, only after a paper is published, i.e. after linking it to the landing page of the article in SCIndeks. On that page, in addition to other metadata about the article, there are links to data and attachments and at the same time an emblem (Open Science badge) which indicates which type of additional content it is (open materials or open data; see sample example). Also, the metadata of the content deposited in Figshare in turn refers to the article in SCindeks.

An example of this practice was published in the journal Ratarstvo i povrtarstvo in article Vigna lanceolata in the fire-stick farming and the Australian Aboriginal culture.

supplements 03

The articles are a set of maps of the Australian continent, photographs of Australian natives, a table of their languages and a video showing the sign language of this people, which could not be included in the article itself. Attachments are described by metadata, which allows potential users to identify and contextualize the deposited content, as well as to access the article to which it is linked, but also to cite it as an independent bibliographic item.

The journal Ratarstvo i povrtarstvo has incorporated a standardized model of the publishing primary data policy and other articles into its editorial policy. In accordance with the policy, the authors supported their research and provided permanent access to the collected material, and thus a better understanding of their results, as well as the possible use of that material in new research.

Instructions for editors

In the process of sending the manuscript through SCIndeks Assistant, the authors attach additional files in step 3 along with the text, tables, and figures. The files should be accompanied by a text attachment with information about the authors, title, description and origin of the primary data or attachments, as well as other relevant information.

The maximum allowed size of attachments in SCIndeks Assistant is 20MB, while for larger files, authors should contact the editorial board of the journal.

Primary data are submitted for review when the manuscript itself. Once a paper is accepted for publication, primary data removal is no longer possible. The authors of the paper are completely responsible for the content of additional files as well as for compliance with data protection regulations, ethical standards and copyrights of the persons who participated in the creation of the material.

When the manuscript is accepted for publication, additional files are deposited in the Figshare repository and become publicly available under the CC-BY license. The material is published in the form in which the authors submitted it without copying and changes. Authors from whom financiers require the deposit of primary data in other repositories should contact the journal's editorial board.

When citing primary data or referring to their content, authors should refer to the data in a relevant place in their manuscripts and, in addition, to provide an appropriate reference in the References section. The recommended citation style is defined by the FORCE11 data citation principles (Data Citation Synthesis Group, 2014).

Invitation to the authors

CEON/CEES will invite the journal editors to encourage their authors to start submitting primary data and other attachments once when the innovation is fully implemented. Procedures for acceptance and further treatment of such content should be specified in the Instructions for Authors in accordance with the solutions implemented in SCIndeks. For its part, CEON/CEES will provide the necessary technical support to the SCIndeks Assistant journals editors in the process of mastering this innovation. At the same time, in the foreseeable future, it will adjust the existing indicator "transparency of editing" in the JBR in order to reward journals that successfully apply this type of practice.


  1. Data Citation Synthesis Group (2014). Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles. M. Martone (ed.) San Diego CA. FORCE11. Preuzeto 06. 03. 2020. [https://www.force11.org/group/joint-declaration-data-citation-principles-final]
  2. Flanagin A, Christiansen SL, Borden C, et al. (2018). Editorial Evaluation, Peer Review, and Publication of Research Reports With and Without Supplementary Online Content. JAMA, 319(4):410-411. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.20650
  3. Figshare (n.d.) Pristupljeno 15. 02. 2020. [https://knowledge.figshare.com/institutions]
  4. FORCE11. The FAIR Data Principles. Pristupljeno 08. 05. 2020 [https://www.force11.org/group/fairgroup/fairprinciples]
  5. Ministarstvo prosvete, nauke i tehnološkog razvoja (2018). Platforma za otvorenu nauku. Pristupljeno 05. 05. 2020. [http://www.mpn.gov.rs/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Platforma-za-otvorenu-nauku.pdf]
  6. Wilkinson, M. D., Dumontier, M., Aalbersberg, I. J., Appleton, G., Axton, M., Baak, A., … Mons, B. (2016). The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Scientific data, 3, 160018. doi:10.1038/sdata.2016.18



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