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Movebank Data Repository FAQ

The Movebank Data Repository contains published datasets of animal movement data in the Movebank format. This is distinct from the main Movebank tracking database, in which users control access and are responsible for their data quality, and where most data are stored. To be published in the Movebank Data Repository, a dataset in Movebank undergoes an official review process and, when accepted, is granted a unique identifier (DOI) and license and is made publicly available.

See below for answers to general questions about the data repository: how it works, how to publish your data, and how to access and use published data. If you have other questions, please contact us at support@movebank.org.

How the repository works

What kinds of datasets does Movebank publish?

How do data in Movebank's data repository differ from other data in Movebank?

Why has Movebank developed this repository?

How are datasets in the repository licensed?

What is a DOI?

Are there other repositories like this?

Is there any cost for publishing my data?

How to publish your data

How do I prepare and submit my data?

Why should I publish my data?

Can I use the Movebank Data Repository to fulfill data-sharing requirements?

What is a data package?

Why does my dataset have to be uploaded to Movebank before it can be published in the repository?

Can I place an embargo on the publication of my data?

Can I publish my data but restrict access to it?

How to access and use published data

How do I access published datasets?

Does the Movebank Data Repository have an API?

How do I cite data from the Movebank Data Repository?

How can I re-use published data for a new purpose?

 

How the repository works

What kinds of datasets does Movebank publish?

The Movebank Data Repository includes .csv files of animal movement data that have been imported into Movebank and are thus in the Movebank data format, along with associated data files that may include raw data files, reference data, and additional descriptive information. The repository consists primarily of datasets that are described in peer-reviewed journal articles. We will consider the publication of other datasets on a case-by-case basis.

How do data in Movebank's data repository differ from other data in Movebank?

Movebank is designed to help scientists share and work with data throughout the research cycle. Thus, tracking data in Movebank include information that is still being analyzed and edited and may not be suitable for public distribution. In contrast, datasets in the repository have gone through a review process. These datasets are typically associated with a written study published in an academic journal, which describes how and why the data were collected and analyzed. Before being accepted for publication, users are required to provide enough supporting information that others can understand the attributes and values in the dataset and how they were obtained. In addition, published datasets may contain raw data files, readme files, or other information not fully integrated into normal Movebank studies.

Why has Movebank developed this repository?

Collecting animal tracking data takes enormous time, effort, and funding, and also impacts the animals who carry tracking tags. We believe that these data provide invaluable records about nature and should be preserved for future generations. These studies are often taxpayer-funded; however, after a paper about the study is published, these data are often privately stored and never used again. Archiving these data and making them accessible provides public access to these data and allows the data to be used again to address new questions. In addition, publishing datasets in the Movebank format facilitates combining multiple datasets, for example to do comparative analyses or to increase sample sizes, and allows them to be analyzed using tools developed for working with Movebank-format data.

How are datasets in the repository licensed?

Datasets in the Movebank Data Repository are licensed using the Creative Commons Zero License. The intent of this license is to facilitate the re-use of works. The Creative Commons Zero license is a "no rights reserved" license that allows copyright holders to opt out of copyright protections automatically extended by copyright and other laws, thus placing works in the public domain with as little legal restriction as possible. However, works published with this license must still be appropriately cited following professional and ethical standards for academic citation. More information about this license is available here and the legal text of the license is available here.

What is a DOI?

A DOI, or a digital object identifier, is a stable, permanent, unique, and secure identifier. This identifier will not change over time (in the way that a link or URL can) and is an unambiguous way of referring to and providing access to the published version of a dataset. The DOI should be included in all citations of the dataset, for example if the dataset is referred to in an article or listed on a data owner's CV. Digital object identifiers in the Movebank Data Repository are issued by Movebank through the University of Konstanz Library, which has a contract with the German National Library of Science and Technology, a non-commercial DOI registration agency for research data that manages DataCite, a non-profit organization that promotes data access, citation, and reuse. Read more about DOIs at www.doi.org.

Are there other repositories like this?

Yes, there are an increasing number of repositories that publish and archive original datasets in a way that promotes data quality, persistence, and reuse. The Movebank Data Repository is unique in being a repository specifically for animal movement data that archives data from many authors in a shared format, along with additional files to make sure the data from each unique study are fully described. The Movebank Data Repository was modeled after Dryad, a repository for data underlying scientific and medical publications. In addition there are a growing number of journals, such as Ecological ArchivesBiodiversity Data Journal, and Scientific Data, that publish datasets along with a written description.

Is there any cost for publishing my data?

Review, publication, and archiving of datasets in the Movebank Data Repository is currently free of charge. The costs of data curation, software and website maintenance, etc., are covered for the scientific community by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and University of Konstanz Library.

How to publish your data

How do I prepare and submit my data?

To prepare a dataset to submit to the Movebank Data Repository,

  • Upload and organize your dataset in Movebank (see the Movebank user manual for instructions). At minimum, you will submit and publish .csv files with your tracking data and reference data in Movebank format.
  • Prepare a peer-reviewed journal article, including submitted draft manuscripts, or other documentation describing the same dataset. We encourage submission prior to final publication of your article, which allows you to include the citation for your dataset directly in your written publication.

To submit the dataset, please contact the Movebank Data Curator, Sarah Davidson, directly at sdavidson@orn.mpg.de. This allows us to talk with you about your dataset, and if needed to schedule to have the review completed in time for accepted datasets to be published at the same time as the associated journal article.

Why should I publish my data?

Movebank believes that animal movement data have a tremendous value in their own right, in addition to the value of papers and reports that describe and interpret these data. After submitting a dataset for publication, Movebank will review your dataset for free, ensuring that it is consistent with your written analysis of the data and that it is thoroughly described. We then publish the dataset, assigning each data file a persistent, resolvable digital object identifier (DOI) that can be cited by others and included as a publication on your CV. In the same way that you publish papers describing your research so that future researchers can build on your findings, publishing your data allows future researchers to access these data and use them for conservation programs, meta-analyses, and as a record of biodiversity/animal movement. As with written publications, academic ethics and integrity require that others provide proper acknowledgement of references to or re-use of another researchers data and ideas. Lastly, to increase accessibility of datasets published in Movebank, we are working to make the repository searchable by the growing number of biodiversity and scientific data repositories.

Can I use the Movebank Data Repository to fulfill data-sharing requirements?

Many research funding agencies and academic journals now have rigorous data-sharing policies requiring scientists to make their data available to other researchers. For example, the U.S. National Science Foundation now requires that research funding proposals include a description of how research data will be disseminated, shared, and preserved (see here). A major goal of the Movebank project is to provide an efficient way for scientists to comply with these types of policies. Feel free to contact us at support@movebank.org for help in preparing a data management plan or fulfilling specific requirements.

What is a data package?

In some cases, a published dataset in the Movebank Data Repository will consist of multiple files (for example, a file containing the actual tracking timepoints and locations, a raw data file, and a file containing extra descriptive information about the animals, tags, and deployments in the study). In these cases, a DOI is assigned to the entire data package, or group of files that compose the published data set. Each file within the package is assigned a component DOI.

Why does my dataset have to be uploaded to Movebank before it can be published in the repository?

When data are uploaded to Movebank, they are converted to a shared format. For example, in Movebank, all datasets are in the WGS84 geodetic system and all timestamps are in the same format and same time zone. In addition, all dataset attributes are defined. Requiring that datasets are in this format and viewable in Movebank makes it much easier for us to review datasets and ensures a level of consistency in the datasets we publish, while still allowing users to publish associated files, such as raw data files, that may be unique to a dataset. This shared format also means that published datasets can be analyzed using tools developed by Movebank and collaborators. Lastly, restricting publications to those that are in Movebank helps us be sure that we remain focused on our aim of providing a wide range of support for the types of tracking data that can be used in Movebank, rather than expanding beyond our available resources in an effort to publish other kinds of biodiversity or movement data.

Can I place an embargo on the publication of my data?

We encourage the publication of datasets as soon as possible after they are accepted for publication and the data owner has made any needed revisions. However, sometimes there are good reasons for delaying the publication of a dataset, for example to wait until after the written analysis of a study has been published. We are happy to work with you to time the publication of your dataset until your study is published, and will discuss this timing with you during the review process. If you wish to place a longer embargo on your study, please contact us directly at support@movebank.org so we can discuss how we can accommodate your needs.

Can I publish my data but restrict access to it?

Because we have limited resources to review and curate data for the repository, and because the main aim of the repository is to make animal movement data publicly available, we do not publish datasets with restrictions on data access and use (for details see here). However, we do recognize that there are good reasons to restrict access to certain types of animal movement data. For example, if data describe detailed movements or the general location of animals threatened by poachers, a researcher may want to share the data only with organizations they trust will use the data appropriately. In these cases, we encourage you to manage and share your data appropriately without publishing it using the resources available for non-published data on Movebank. For assistance with long-term archiving of these types of data, please contact us at support@movebank.org.

 

How to access and use published data

How do I access published datasets?

You can view summaries of and access published datasets by going to the Movebank Data Repository home page. Here you can see a list of recently published datasets, or go to Browse > Authors to search for publications by author. Along with a summary description and files for each publication are tools to help you appropriately cite the study and share it with others.

Does the Movebank Data Repository have an API?

As the Movebank Data Repository is based on the open-source Data Dryad repository software, you can access files and metadata using the data access methods similar to those described on the Data Dryad Wiki. Note that the Movebank repository is not based on the current version of the Dryad software so not all of the methods described will work. In addition, you can search the metadata for each dataset stored at DataCite as described in the DataCite API. The Movebank tracking database has a separate API, available here, which can be used to access the Movebank study that complements each package in the repository (you can find the study name in the data package's readme file).

How do I cite data from the Movebank Data Repository?

If you refer to data from the Movebank Data Repository in a publication, you should always cite the published dataset, including the associated DOI or DOIs, and any publications that describe the data in the dataset. If you are referring to only one file within a data package, then you should cite the component DOI for that file; otherwise you should cite the DOI for the data package. In addition, we request that you cite Movebank or mention in the text that the data were accessed through the Movebank Data Repository (this helps us to show current and potential funding organizations why Movebank is important!).

Exactly how a dataset is cited within a publication will depend on the publisher, so you should ask the publisher what they prefer. They may want you to cite the dataset within the text of the paper, in the References section, or in a separate Data Resources section. Regardless of how it is cited, be sure to include the DOI number and the Movebank Data Repository as the publisher.

How can I re-use datasets for a new purpose?

Data from the Movebank Data Repository are published under a Creative Commons Zero license and so may be re-used with proper citation without additional permission. However, we highly recommend that you contact the data creator if possible if you will be re-analyzing data. Researchers will likely be interested in learning about new uses of their datathey might also have important insight about how to properly analyze and interpret their data and/or might have additional data they would be willing to contribute to your project. Feel free to contact us at support@movebank.org if you need assistance with contacting data owners.