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Transparency, usability, and reproducibility : guiding principles for improving comparative databases using primates as examples.

Borries, C. and Sandel, A. and Koenig, A. and Fernandez-Duque, E. and Kamilar, J. and Amoroso, C. and Barton, R. and Bray, J. and Di Fiore, A. and Gilby, I. and Gordon, A. and Mundry, R. and Port, M. and Powell, L. and Pusey, A. and Spriggs, A. and Nunn, C. (2016) 'Transparency, usability, and reproducibility : guiding principles for improving comparative databases using primates as examples.', Evolutionary anthropology., 25 (5). pp. 232-238.


Recent decades have seen rapid development of new analytical methods to investigate patterns of interspecific variation. Yet these cutting-edge statistical analyses often rely on data of questionable origin, varying accuracy, and weak comparability, which seem to have reduced the reproducibility of studies. It is time to improve the transparency of comparative data while also making these improved data more widely available. We, the authors, met to discuss how transparency, usability, and reproducibility of comparative data can best be achieved. We propose four guiding principles: 1) data identification with explicit operational definitions and complete descriptions of methods; 2) inclusion of metadata that capture key characteristics of the data, such as sample size, geographic coordinates, and nutrient availability (for example, captive versus wild animals); 3) documentation of the original reference for each datum; and 4) facilitation of effective interactions with the data via user friendly and transparent interfaces. We urge reviewers, editors, publishers, database developers and users, funding agencies, researchers publishing their primary data, and those performing comparative analyses to embrace these standards to increase the transparency, usability, and reproducibility of comparative studies.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
First Live Deposit - 26 September 2016
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Borries, C., Sandel, A. A., Koenig, A., Fernandez-Duque, E., Kamilar, J. M., Amoroso, C. R., Barton, R. A., Bray, J., Di Fiore, A., Gilby, I. C., Gordon, A. D., Mundry, R., Port, M., Powell, L. E., Pusey, A. E., Spriggs, A. and Nunn, C. L. (2016), Transparency, usability, and reproducibility: Guiding principles for improving comparative databases using primates as examples. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 25(5): 232-238, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Record Created:26 Sep 2016 13:50
Last Modified:22 Oct 2017 00:53

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