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Organizing Data and Files for Journal Submission

This week we share a simple but important practice about organizing data files and documents for submitting papers to journals.

As a researcher, you may already have your systems to organize project data and documents in one place. A single research project can easily warrant multiple papers that you would publish in journals, or report in conferences, at different phases of the project. However, novice researchers may not be aware that it would be helpful to separately organize the materials that they want to “spin-off” for a paper. Without doing so, they may find it frustrating in the later stage of the process, specifically relating to handling research data underlying the article.

One article often captures only a “snapshot” of your research process, progress, or findings. Therefore, it is rather common that the data relating to a particular paper is only a subset or a snapshot of the data of the whole project. While your project datasets grow as your research work continues, the underlying data supporting the manuscript you submitted should be a “frozen” version while your manuscript is undergoing peer review. As the review process proceeds, you may be asked to submit the specific data that support the paper; and later, if your paper is accepted for publication, the journal may require that you deposit and share the data properly. You may take the data sharing policies from The Royal Society and Springer Nature for examples. Therefore, it is a good practice for you to make a separate folder when you submit a manuscript to a journal. This folder can contain: 

  • The manuscript and its later revisions
  • Cover letter for the submission
  • A copy of the data files supporting this paper, which may include raw data, codes, algorithms, aggregated data, etc.
  • Documentation and metadata for the datasets
  • Figures, images, charts that appear in the manuscripts
  • Copyright agreement at acceptance
  • Data Availability Statement (DAS) that the publisher may require after acceptance
  • And other files relating to the submission and publication of this paper

Putting these files in a designated folder can let you manage the submission and peer review process without interfering the continuous growth of your project data and documents. When you revise the narratives, reframe your analysis or arguments based on reviewers’ comments, these changes are made with the files in this specific folder only, leaving your original project documents unaffected.

Here you can find more tips and best practices on organizing files effectively:

– By Gabi Wong, Library

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published November 3, 2022