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RDM Explained – What Is a Data Journal?

May 12th, 2022 | by
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Describing Datasets. Source: Unsplash

We continue with our series “RDM explained”, in which we provide you with important terms and information for practical research data management. In addition to the classic scientific journals, there are also so-called data journals in scientific publishing. In contrast to the scientific journal, these refer exclusively to data. However, some people are still completely unfamiliar with this form of publication. For this reason, we would like to take a closer look at data journals on RWTH blog around the topic of Research Data Management (RDM).

What is a data journal?

Data journals focus on the publication of research results in the form of datasets. Data journals publish so-called “data papers” that deal with the description of datasets. In contrast to scientific articles, which publish research results digitally and/or in paper form, data journals are mainly concerned with the presentation and description of research data and methods.

In addition to documenting the research data and methods, data papers refer to the storage location where the datasets are located. In general, these are deposited in an institutional or subject-related repository. The data journal is a purely online medium. Access to the content is via restricted access or via open access.

With what intention were data journals developed?

The initial idea behind data journals was to make research data that was hidden among countless other data in institutional repositories more visible and transparent. Furthermore, the description of the procedure offers the possibility of processing research results in terms of content and making them more comprehensible for subsequent users.

Where to find data journals?

Currently there is no tool that lists the data journals and allows a comfortable search. However, there are some lists of available data journals:


Learn more

An article on types of data journals and their function is already available online. If you have any questions about Research Data Management in general, feel free to write the ServiceDesk. The RDM team looks forward to hearing from you. For more information on RDM, please visit the RWTH websites.


Responsible for the content of this article is Sophia Nosthoff.

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