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SourceData from EMBO wins the 2017 ALPSP Award for Innovation in Publishing


Amsterdam and Heidelberg, 15 September 2017 – SourceData (sourcedata.embo.org), an open platform from EMBO, designed to make published scientific data easily findable, has won the 2017 ALPSP Award for Innovation in Publishing.


The results were announced on 14 September 2017 at the ALPSP 10th Anniversary Conference and Awards in Amsterdam. The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) represents organizations and institutions that publish scholarly and professional content around the world. The award recognizes innovative projects that are of significant value to scholarly communication. SourceData was one of six projects shortlisted from over 40 submissions and was declared one of two winners along with Publons, a cross-publisher platform for researchers to collate and verify evidence of their work as an editor or peer reviewer.


SourceData project lead, Thomas Lemberger, accepted the award, stating that “The project grew out of a simple idea to make it easier for scientists to find and use the data published in journal articles.” SourceData describes the data published in figures using a machine-readable format that identifies the biological entities contained in the figures and the causal relationships between them. This format allows researchers to search directly for data on specific research questions and to easily navigate between related figures, including those published in different papers.


“It is a great honour to have the innovation and value of SourceData recognised by publishers,” said Lemberger. “SourceData can provide publishers with new tools to help their readers find relevant content and can give scientists an easier way to search the published literature for pertinent data.”


SourceData was developed at EMBO in collaboration with the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. In September 2016, the SmartFigures Lab (smartfigures.net), SourceData’s first implementation in a publishing environment, was launched in partnership with publishers Wiley and developers 67 Bricks.


SourceData makes use of the information routinely provided by authors to describe their results, including figure legends, axis labels and figure contents. The resulting description captures the elements studied, such as genes or proteins, and their role: whether they were manipulated or observed. Figures can then be linked to each other based on their common elements and searched based on their tested relationships. SourceData provides a suite of applications including SmartFigures: enhanced figures containing links to related results and data that can be embedded in online publications, DataSearch: a search engine that finds published figures based on their data content, and MetaFig: a curation interface that offers computer-assisted importing of new figures into the SourceData format.


The SourceData team plans to continue engaging with the community of authors, researchers and publishers to promote broad adoption of the platform.


For more information about SourceData, visit sourcedata.embo.org


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Tilmann KiesslingTilmann Kiessling
Head, Communications
T. + 49 160 9019 3839