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Standardizing citations of research biobanks for a possible evaluation of bioresource research impact factor

Paola De Castro1, Federica Napolitani1, Anna Maria Rossi1, Carlo Petrini1, Anne Cambon-Thomsen2 and Elena Bravo1
1Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
2Inserm, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France

Bioresources such as biobanks, databases and bioinformatics tools are important elements in current research but there is no standardized way to acknowledge the effort involved in establishing and maintaining such resources.(1)  Thus there is no way to evaluate the impact of the use of such resources on scientific research.

A working group for the creation of a Bioresource Research Impact Factor (BRIF) was set up within the BBMRI and GEN2PHEN European projects.  The main objective is to promote the sharing of bioresources by creating a link between their initiators or implementers and the impact of the scientific research using them. A BRIF would make it possible to trace the quantitative use of a bioresource, the kind of research using it and the efforts of the people and institutions that construct it and make it available.

The working group  produced a number of subgroups, comprising experts in the relevant fields, which in 2011 started to work on different aspects of BRIF.  The subgroup "BRIF and journal editors" studied how to  raise awareness of journal editors to matters pertaining to citation of bioresources, with the aim of modifying their editorial guidelines accordingly. The group has submitted a proposal for amendments to the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts which the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors has agreed  to consider. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has been approached to address in their guidelines the editorial and ethical problems concerning biobanks and more generally bioresources.  The same issues will be also discussed within the European Association of Science Editors. The creation of BRIF will certainly benefit from the development of digital technologies which will facilitate the management, standardization, counting and coupling of citations as well as data interoperability.

Cambon-Thomsen A, Gudmundur A, Thorisson GA, Mabile L for the BRIF workshop group. The role of a bioresource research impact factor as an incentive to share human bioresources. [correspondence] Nature Genetics 2011;43(6):503-4.