Profile: Dryad

We have a guestblogger today! At my request, Peggy Schaeffer kindly sent me the following introduction to Dryad, which I reproduce as I received it (save for minor formatting details).

I will happily pass any questions in the comments on to Peggy for response.


Dryad is a repository for data underlying scientific publications, with an initial focus on evolution, ecology, and related fields. It's not an institutional repository, or one focused on only a single type of data -- it's designed for the multitudes of data underlying published articles that would otherwise be scattered ineffectively, hard to find, or lost. Dryad enables researchers to archive their data at the time of publication, dedicate it to the public domain, and get a citable DOI for it. In so doing, Dryad promotes the discovery and reuse of data by others.

The Dryad repository model has these strengths:

  • all data is associated with a published article (this collection policy provides a qualitative measure and enables links between journal articles and their data)
  • data archiving is facilitated at the point of publication, when authors' motivation to share is strongest and the data are at hand
  • Dryad is governed and supported by a growing Consortium of major international journals and societies (see list here)
  • partner journals support a Joint Data Archiving Policy that requires data archiving at the point of publication
  • all types of data and formats are welcome; journals may specify standards appropriate for particular data types.
  • data submission is facilitated by Dryad's integration with the manuscript processing systems of its partner journals; authors publishing in these journals don't need to input bibliographic details
  • data submitted to Dryad will be also served to select specialized repositories (like GenBank), further reducing the burden on authors to submit data to multiple sites
  • all data is made freely available under the Creative Commons Zero waiver
  • data receive DataCite DOIs and receive an independent citation when they are reused
  • descriptive metadata will be automatically generated from the article and data content, allowing authors and curators to review & select proposed descriptors from multiple ontologies and thesauri. For more details, see the HIVE project page. Don't miss the nifty video.
  • Dryad plans to expose its contents through a variety of web standards, to enable metadata harvesting, remote queries, and linked-data applications.

Dryad allows future investigators to validate published findings, explore new analysis methodologies, repurpose the data for research questions unanticipated by the original authors, and perform synthetic studies such as formal meta-analyses.

The repository is being developed at the National Center for Evolutionary Synthesis, or NESCent, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information Science, and the Dryad Consortium of partner journals. A number of the partner journals have recently announced their intention to require data deposition in a publicly available archive as a condition of publication:

  • Whitlock, M. C., M. A. McPeek, M. D. Rausher, L. Rieseberg, and A. J. Moore. 2010. Data Archiving. American Naturalist. 175:145-146, doi:10.1086/650340
  • Rieseberg, L., T. Vines, and N. Kane. Editorial and retrospective 2010. Molecular Ecology. 19:1-22, doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04450.x
  • Rausher, M. D., M. A. McPeek, A. J. Moore, L. Rieseberg, and M. C. Whitlock. Data Archiving. Evolution. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00940.x
  • Allen J. Moore, Mark A. McPeek, Mark D. Rausher, Loren Rieseberg, Michael C. Whitlock. The need for archiving data in evolutionary biology. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 2010 Published Online: Feb 9 2010. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.01937.x
  • Uyenoyama, M. K. (2010). MBE editor's report. Mol Biol Evol, 27(3):742-743. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msp22

Dryad currently has a staff of about 7 (curator, repository architect, programmer, communications officer, etc.) led by

  • Project Director: Todd Vision, Associate Professor of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Associate Director for Informatics at NESCent
  • Jane Greenberg, Professor and Director, SILS Metadata Research Center School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Funding comes from the National Science Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has funded HIVE (Helping Interdisciplinary Vocabulary Engineering) a 3-year project that will enhance Dryad's metadata.

For more detailed information, including upcoming features, details of the metadata format, and other development plans, please see the Dryad website and the team Wiki. Also, you can follow Dryad's activities on the Dryad blog: and Twitter: @datadryad.

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