Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 08, 2007

MRC data access policy

The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) has added a data access policy to its larger open access policy.  Excerpt:

Every year, the MRC invests around 500 million of public money in research, the primary output of which is data. We need to make better use of the research opportunities that such a diversity, richness and quantity of publicly-funded research data provide. One of the best ways of achieving this is to ensure that data are properly preserved for sharing and informed use beyond the originating research teams....

MRC data sharing policy and access principles promote new and extended use of MRC-funded data for high-quality, ethical research. Responsible sharing of data allows testing of new hypotheses and analyses, linkage and pooling of datasets, and validation of research findings. These activities not only reduce duplication of data creation but also enhance the long-term scientific value of existing data. This benefits the wider research community and generates new opportunities for advancement towards the longer-term goal of improving human health.

Below are general principles governing access to, and use of, all MRC-funded research data.

1. MRC research data are publicly-funded and, as a public good, must be made available for new research purposes in a timely, responsible manner.

2. Governance of researcher access to MRC-funded research data must balance the interests of data creators, custodians, users and data subjects.

3. Access policies and practices for individual MRC-funded datasets must be transparent, equitable, practicable and provide clear decisions consistent with MRC data sharing policy.

4. Access to, and use of, MRC-funded data must comply with statutory and other regulatory requirements, and good research practice....

Study-specific data access arrangements must embody the four principles and may draw on the supporting guidance provided here as required.

General guidance on implementing MRC data access principles sets out key elements of good practice in key areas:

General guidance for all MRC-funded research data ...

To complement MRC Access Guidance, the following will soon be available:

MRC Guides on Curation of Research Data

MRC Data and Tissues Toolkit

Data sharing documents example material...