Microplastics Research Data: Evaluating the Current State of Findability and Accessibility and Recommendations for Improving Data Sharing
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With concerns about microplastic pollution increasing, actionable research is needed to inform funding priorities, environmental policy, and mitigation strategies. It is therefore crucial that the corresponding research data are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR). To investigate the findability and accessibility of microplastics data and data management practices within the community, we analyzed a stratified random sample of peer-reviewed microplastics articles, as well as microplastics datasets in online data repositories. Of the subset of 785 microplastics articles extracted from the 6608 articles indexed in the Web of Science, only 28.5% had a data sharing statement. The statements further revealed that, most often, data were provided in the supplementary material (38.8%) with only 13.8% of the statements directing the reader to data stored in a digital repository. Notwithstanding the 6608 microplastics articles in the Web of Science, only 279 datasets were found across ten different repositories. While the annual number of datasets shared in repositories has increased with time, this growth is still lagging behind that of the number of publications. Furthermore, of the datasets identified, 20.4% required additional approval to access the data. Moreover, many datasets lacked adequate metadata: 15.4% of the datasets did not report a sampling location and 18.2% did not report the type of environmental media or matrix of the microplastic particles. These results highlight the significant efforts that are needed to improve the long-term availability and accessibility of microplastics data. We offer five recommendations based on the insights of this study to strengthen data sharing and data management practices within the microplastics research community.
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Tia Jenkins, Bhaleka Persaud, Win Cowger, Kathy Szigeti, Dominique Roche, Erin Clary, Stephanie Slowinski, Benjamin Lei, Amila Abeynayaka, Ebenezer Nyadjro, Thomas Mae, Leah Thornton Hampton, Melanie Bergmann, Julian Aherne, Sherri Mason, John Honek, Fereidoun Rezanezhad, Amy Lusher, Andy Booth, Rodney Smith, Philippe Van Cappellen (2022). Microplastics Research Data: Evaluating the Current State of Findability and Accessibility and Recommendations for Improving Data Sharing . UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19537
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