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Proposal for PDB deposits to include contact details for senior author

Wladek MinorJohn R. Helliwell
[Letter to the Editor]

The Chairs of the IUCr Commission on Biological Macromolecules (CMB) and the IUCr Committee on Data (CommDat) together with a number of prominent crystallographers have written the following letter to the Worldwide Protein Data Bank (wwPDB):

During recent years we have observed a growing number of deposits that, instead of listing a journal as the primary citation, have a “To be published” status. As of 12 June 2020 there were more than 26,000 PDB deposits that have “To be published” status and more than 9,000 deposits have held this status since 2010, i.e. for 10 years.

Core metadata are very important for biomedical scientists as well as structural biologists. However, when we are working on a similar structure we often need additional information that is impossible to obtain from the PDB deposit alone. In particular, when a PDB deposit has a journal publication as a primary citation, it is very easy to find an email address of the senior author (or depositing author) and contact that person if the need arises. Unfortunately, this is often not possible in the case when the primary citation has “To be published” as its status in the PDB.

We, the Chair of CBM, the Chair of CommDat and other senior crystallographers, propose that every PDB deposit should have in the metadata for the deposition the work institution email address of the senior author. We hope that this would allow for easy contact with the authors of every PDB structure in case of any query. Also we think it could reduce the number of places on the internet that keep ‘independently validated’ versions of a structure.

Crystallographers who would like to support this initiative should send an email to CBM Chair Wladek Minor or CommDat Chair John Helliwell.

24 September 2020

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