Much of the burden of Research data Management is laid upon the individual researcher. They are the people who know and understand their data better than anyone and they know best what and how it can be shared. However, there are many sources of support and guidance for researchers who want to meet this responsibility. Much of this comes from the same bodies who are seeking to promote a culture of research data Mangement and sharing.
Your scholarly community
The need for Research Data Management (RDM) and accessible data is recognised by scholars across the world. Alongside the development of the internet itself, the enterprises supporting the free and safe sharing of knowledge (from the Creative Commons initiative to FAIRsharing.org ) have their origins in scholars collaborating seeking to ensure best practice in the preservation and management of information on the internet. This means that the Open Data movement’s ideals are compatible with the needs of scholars. Research Data Management and sharing sits within a mature context of Open Data across the internet. For more information about Open Data in general, see The Open Data Initiative and Open Knowledge International’s Open Data Handbook
Adam Tickell’s independent Report to the UK government in 2016 recommended that the shift toward a culture of Open Research Data should continue to be supported. Tickell cited the G8 “principles that open data should be discoverable, accessible, assessable, intelligible, useable and, where possible, interoperable.” as an important precedent. This positive approach to RDM and open data has been carried over to policies adopted by RCUK funders and HEFCE. Both of these bodies have adopted the Open Data Concordat and have built their policies around the concordat’s key principles:
- Open access to research data is an enabler of high-quality research, a facilitator of innovation and safeguards good research practice.
- There are sound reasons why the openness of research data may need to be restricted but any restrictions must be justified and justifiable.
- Open access to research data carries a significant cost, which should be respected by all parties.
- The right of the creators of research data to reasonable first use is recognised.
- Use of others’ data should always conform to legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks including appropriate acknowledgement.
- Good data management is fundamental to all stages of the research process and should be established at the outset.
- Data curation is vital to make data useful for others and for long-term preservation of data.
- Data supporting publications should be accessible by the publication date and should be in a citable form.
- Support for the development of appropriate data skills is recognised as a responsibility for all stakeholders.
- Regular reviews of progress.
These principles in themselves support a balanced approach to openness – ensuring research data are ‘as open as possible and as restricted as necessary’.
Alongside the adoption of the Open Data Concordat into their policy, the RCUK has also allowed that the expense involved in preparing data for access and preservation can be included in any grants applications. The RCUK also provides extensive guidance documentation, which is supplemented by policy and information from each of the funders. Each RCUK funding body presents these principles in a way most suitable to the research discipline it supports. The DCC provides an overview of funder policies covering RCUK and major charitable funding bodies.
The ESRC funds the UK Data Service. This service provides a secure archive available to any researcher – not just those supported by ESRC. It also has pages of guidance, case studies and practical support.
The main publishers offer support for their research data policies:
- Elsevier supports principles similar to those behind the RCUK data policy and provides Mendeley Data “as a storage and preservation option for data”. Elsevier cites “increasing reproducibility, transparency and trust of the original research” as reasons for sharing data via public archives
- Authors submitting papers to Springer Nature and Nature Research journals are required to make their data available upon submission or to give reasons why they aren’t available. Nature does not provide its own data store for authors but it recommends public data stores that meet its standards.
- Taylor and Francis are introducing a data policy this year for many of its journals. Authors submitting to one of these titles will have to deposit their data in a repository and cite the data in their paper before submission. Taylor and Francis recommend authors choose a data repository with minimum standards and which is “community-credited”. They prefer discipline focussed archives but also suggest generalist archives, like Mendeley Data.
- Springer Nature provides a similar suite of resources and Springer Nature Research Data Support is available to any researcher who would like help to organise and share the research data that support their published research.
Higher Education Institutions in the UK contribute to a community of support through JISC. JISC’s role is to provide policy direction, economies of scale in developing systems and services and coordinating standards. Through JiSC the UK institutions support services like SHERPA enabling consistent practice and policy across the sector.
DataCite, was established by a group of European research libraries and institutions, including The British Library. It was set up to provide accurate, consistent and standardised referencing for data, leading to:
- easier access to research data on the Internet
- acceptance of research data as legitimate, citable contributions to the scholarly record
- data archiving that will permit results to be verified and re-purposed for future study
DataCite manages the allocation of DOIs for datasets and other research outputs created by member institutions, like the University of Kent. Re3data.org – a register of research archives and repositories, is another of the services established by DataCite to help researchers manage and disseminate their data.
Kent Data Repository (KDR) is the centrepiece of the University of Kent’s support for Research Data management. It is an archive for researchers for whom there is no suitable subject or general archive. It is also a registry for all the data created at Kent even where that is archived elsewhere. Links can be made between data on KDR and publication records on KAR. We can also coin DOIs for datasets and provide permanent URLs for your work, validated by DataCite. Research Support, a part of the Academic Liason Service in the Library, provides a suite of support for Research Data Management for University of Kent researchers. if you need guidance, archive services or just help finding the right resource for you get in touch…