Open Access News

News from the open access movement


Monday, July 02, 2007

Legal guide to data access and reuse

Australia's Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project has released a major (258 pp.) new report by Anne Fitzgerald and Kylie Pappalardo, Building the Infrastructure for Data Access and Reuse In Collaborative Research: An Analysis of the Legal Context (June 2007).  From the Executive Summary:

This Report examines the broad legal framework within which research data is generated, managed, disseminated and used. The background to the Report is the growing support for systems that enable research data generated in publicly-funded research projects to be made available for access and use by others in the research community.

The Report provides an overview of the operation of copyright law, contract and confidentiality laws, as well as a range of legislation - privacy, public records and freedom of information legislation, etc that is of relevance to research data. The Report considers how these legal rules apply to define rights in research data and regulate the generation, management and sharing of data. In any given research project there will be a multitude of different parties with varying interests legal and otherwise in the data produced. These parties include researchers, research funders, licensees and other users, for example members of the general public who access the data online. The Report examines the relationships between these parties and the legal arrangements that must be implemented to ensure that research data is properly and effectively managed, so that it can be accessed and used by other researchers.

Important in the context of collaborative research and open access, the Report describes and explains current practices and attitudes towards data sharing. A wide array of databases is analysed to ascertain the arrangements currently in place to manage and provide access to research data. Often these practices are informed by international and national policies on access and use, formulated by international organisations and conferences, research funders and research bodies. The Report considers these policies at length and canvasses the development of the open access to research data movement.

Finally, the Report encourages researchers and research organisations to adopt proper management and legal frameworks for research data outputs. It provides practical guidance on the development and implementation of legal frameworks for data management with the objective of ensuring that research data can be accessed and used by other researchers. The Report describes best practice strategies and mechanisms for organising, preserving and enabling access to and reuse of research data, including data management policies and principles, data management plans and data management toolkits. Proposals are made for further work to be undertaken on data access policies, frameworks, strategies and mechanisms.