• National Cancer Institute
  • National Human Genome Research Institute

Publication Guidelines

Last Updated: July 31, 2014

TCGA is a community resource project and data are made available rapidly after generation for community research use.  To act in accord with the Fort Lauderdale principles and support the continued prompt public release of large-scale genomic data prior to publication, researchers who plan to prepare reports (publications or presentations) containing descriptions of TCGA data that would be of comparable scope to an initial TCGA comprehensive, global analysis publication, and journal editors or conference organizers who receive such reports, are encouraged to coordinate their independent reports with TCGA's publication schedule. Specifically, comparable scope is defined as global genome-wide analysis of TCGA data from more than one platform OR analysis of data from a single platform across more than one tumor type under moratorium.  Publications or presentations involving such analyses are restricted prior to the TCGA publication moratorium release date as described further below.

TCGA defines a global analysis publication as the first paper authored by The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network which includes the data from at least 100 cases of a specific tumor type and includes analysis of much of the existing TCGA data on that tumor type at the time. For rare tumor projects a global analysis publication includes data from a majority of the qualified cases and much of the existing data on that tumor type. Specifically, these manuscripts report on the comprehensive, integrated analysis of multiple TCGA datasets available including, but not limited to, copy number variation, gene and miRNA expression, promoter methylation and DNA sequence/mutation analysis.  A global analysis publication is also defined as an analysis of data from a single platform across more than one tumor type under moratorium.  Prior to a global analysis publication on a specific tumor type, available datasets should be considered pre-publication data subject to the standard principles of scientific etiquette regarding publication of findings using data obtained from other sources.

The TCGA program has established the following policy to clarify freedom of TCGA and non-TCGA users to publish or present on findings using TCGA data.  There are no limitations on reports containing analyses using any TCGA data set if the data set meets one of the following three freedom-to-publish criteria:

  1. A global analysis publication has been published on that tumor type; or
  2. 18 months after 100 cases of a given tumor type have shipped from the Biospecimen Core Resource to characterization and sequencing centers or 18 months after final sample shipment for rare tumor projects; or
  3. The author receives specific approval from the TCGA Publication Committee in consultation with appropriate disease-specific analysis group(s).

Specifically, the status of each tumor dataset is available below.  If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact tcga@mail.nih.gov.

Tumor TypeData Status
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Breast cancer (BRCA)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (KICH)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Clear cell kidney carcinoma (KIRC)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Colon and rectal adenocarcinoma (COAD, READ)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Cutaneous melanoma (SKCM)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSC)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Liver hepatocellular carcinoma (LIHC)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Lower Grade Glioma (LGG)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Ovarian serous cystadenocarcinoma (OV)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Papillary kidney carcinoma (KIRP)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Papillary thyroid carcinoma (THCA)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Stomach adenocarcinoma (STAD)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Prostate adenocarcinoma (PRAD)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Uterine corpus endometrial carcinoma (UCEC)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Urothelial bladder cancer (BLCA)No restrictions; all data available without limitations
Projects with limitations until specific dates or until a global analysis  is published, whichever comes first.  Please contact tcga@mail.nih.gov before publishing.
Cervical cancer (CESC)Publication limitations in place until 09/27/2014
Uterine carcinosarcoma (UCS)Publication limitations in place until 10/31/2014
Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC)Publication limitations in place until 11/09/2014
Esophageal cancer (ESCA)Publication limitations in place until 07/07/2015
Pheochromocytoma & Paraganglioma (PCPG)Publication limitations in place until 07/07/2015
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PAAD)Publication limitations in place until 07/30/2015
Mesothelioma (MESO)Publication limitations in place until 11/14/2016
Uveal melanoma (UVM)Publication limitations in place until 11/14/2016
Sarcoma (SARC)Publication limitations in place until 11/28/2016
Cholangiocarcinoma (CHOL)Publication limitations in place until 11/28/2016
Testicular germ cell cancer (TGCT)Publication limitations in place until 12/18/2016
Thymoma (THYM)Publication limitations in place until 12/18/2016
Projects that have not yet shipped 100 cases; Please check with TCGA prior to publication.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBC)Projects have not reached 100 cases; Please check with TCGA prior to any publication

 

Use of TCGA Data in Publications and Presentations Prior to Initial TCGA Global Analysis Publication

Researchers are free, and indeed encouraged, to report results based on TCGA data.  These results may include, but would not be limited to, integrating TCGA data with data from other sources, particularly in efforts to study the role of specific genes and genomic changes in the biology of cancer. Researchers also are encouraged to use TCGA data to report on the development of novel methods to analyze genomic data related to cancer and genotype-phenotype relationships in cancer. This may include the application of these methods to portions of the data, for example, specific cancer subtypes, the role of specific genes or gene sets, or particular aspects of tumor biology.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) do not consider the deposition of data from TCGA, like those from other large-scale genomic projects, into its own Data Portal or public databases as the equivalent of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Therefore, although the data are available to others, the producers consider these data as unpublished and expect that the data will be used in accord with standard scientific etiquette and practices concerning unpublished data.

Specifically, both TCGA and non-TCGA investigators using TCGA data that have not met a freedom-to-publish criterion per TCGA policy are asked to provide the TCGA Publications Committee and appropriate tumor-specific analysis groups with an abstract summarizing the findings and use of TCGA data.  Authors will receive feedback on whether the TCGA Research Network requests that the findings be submitted in coordination with our global analysis publication of a specific tumor type or whether the submission can occur independent of a TCGA publication.  This assessment may also apply to submission of manuscripts to journal editors or submission of abstracts to conference organizers.  This request can be made via email to tcga@mail.nih.gov.

Use of TCGA Data in Publications and Presentations after Initial TCGA Global Analysis Publication

There are no restrictions on the use of TCGA data in publications or presentations after the initial TCGA global analysis publication.  Once the TCGA Research Network has published tumor-specific analyses, no specific permission is needed for other investigators to publish using these data or future data generated on the same tumor type.  Specifically, all data on that tumor type are released from any limitations as soon as the global analysis is published. However, researchers are encouraged to coordinate with the TCGA Research Network via email to tcga@mail.nih.gov when performing multi-platform analysis in these tumor types to explore opportunities for collaboration.

Use of TCGA Data for Research Purposes other than Publication and Presentation

There are no restrictions on the use of TCGA data for legitimate research purposes not involving publication or presentation. For example, researchers may use TCGA data in research grant applications or proposals at anytime, regardless of whether the initial TCGA global analysis has been published.

TCGA Program Attribution in Publications and Presentations

TCGA requests that authors who use data from TCGA acknowledge the TCGA Research Network in their work by properly referencing the TCGA dataset. Inclusion of the Network in the authorship list is not required.  However, collaborators seeking to add The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network to the list of authors should share the manuscript or presentation with the TCGA Steering Committee for approval prior to submission.  Manuscripts or presentations may be submitted to tcga@mail.nih.gov for review. Authors are also encouraged to recognize the contribution of the appropriate specimen donors and research groups via the acknowledgements section in their publication. Similarly, the TCGA Program requests that journal editors, reviewers, and conference organizers attempt to ascertain if TCGA is cited and if appropriate acknowledgements are made.

An example of a proper attribution is:

"The results <published or shown> here are in whole or part based upon data generated by the TCGA Research Network: http://cancergenome.nih.gov/."

For questions, please contact the TCGA Publications Committee through the Program Office at tcga@mail.nih.gov.