Opening up research data: national action

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Although it was rather buried by the publication of the Stern Review of the REF on the same day, on the 28th July the Concordat on Open Research Data was published by RCUK, Universities UK, Wellcome and HEFCE. They hope that other organisations, especially funders, will also sign up to this concordat and recognise the value of open research data to knowledge advancement.

The concordat is a set of expectations of best practice and works alongside the various pre-existing funder policies and mandates.  It recognises that research data comes in many different forms and there are many different disciplinary practices, nevertheless there are some core principles that can cross all areas of research. These principles cover data in all its many forms (physical, digital, primary (raw), secondary (derived), quantitative or qualitative).

The ten principles are:

  1. Open access to research data is an enabler of high quality research, a facilitator of innovation and safeguards good research practice.
  2. There are sound reasons why the openness of research data may need to be restricted but any restrictions must be justified and justifiable.
  3. Open access to research data carries a significant cost, which should be respected by all parties.
  4. The right of the creators of research data to reasonable first use is recognised.
  5. Use of others’ data should always conform to legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks including appropriate acknowledgement.
  6. Good data management is fundamental to all stages of the research process and should be established at the outset.
  7. Data curation is vital to make data useful for others and for long-term preservation of data.
  8. Data supporting publications should be accessible by the publication date and should be in a citeable form.
  9. Support for the development of appropriate data skills is recognised as a responsibility for all stakeholders.
  10. Regular reviews of progress towards open research data should be undertaken.

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The concordat was developed after a wide ranging consultation to which the University contributed. The University’s own research data policy recognises that open research data is a public good while allowing for  access to data to be restricted where necessary. A robust data archive service, datavault.soton, is due to start later this year to enhance further the University’s support of research data.

The University’s Research Data Management service, based in the Library, can help researchers at all stages of the research lifecycle with their data needs.  We can advise on data management plans, best practice for data management during the project, curation and archiving post-project as well as register DOIs so you can cite your data in publications. Email us at researchdata@soton.ac.uk or you can find out more about our services on our webpages.

Isobel Stark
Research Data Development Manager, Hartley Library

 

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