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Monday, March 02, 2009

Report on national data sharing policies

Raivo Ruusalepp, A Comparative Study of International Approaches to Enabling the Sharing of Research Data, report for the Digital Curation Centre and JISC, November 30, 2008.

... JISC has commissioned this study to survey the different national agendas that are addressing variant infrastructure models, in order to inform developments within the UK and for facilitating an internationally integrated approach to data curation. ...

This study found no evidence of either a universal model or agreement on what a data sharing policy should include.

On an international level, the key players (organisations like OECD, UNESCO, EU and interest groups like CODATA, ESFRI) have concentrated their policy statements around the principle of open access to publicly funded research outputs. While OECD, UNESCO and CODATA have policies explicitly for data sharing, the European Commission is looking at data sharing issues in the broader context of open access to public domain information.

No national level policies or strategic documents that explicitly mandate the sharing of research data were found. Nevertheless, the provision of access to research data is seen as a vital element of the general research infrastructure, and all research infrastructure development strategies acknowledge the need to develop the means for accessing data. Applying Open Access principles to data is discussed at the national level in Germany.

The main burden of developing and implementing data sharing policies is currently being carried by research funding agencies, with an expectation (but not a mandate) that individual research institutions and departments will follow these up with their own policy statements. Measures to motivate researchers into sharing their data incorporate conditions being attached to funding schemes or the provision of data sharing policies backed up by services offered to recipients of funding. The prospect of a more pro?active stance in mandating the sharing of data is evidenced in the recent initiatives of funding agencies to agree on common principles for data sharing.

Typically, but not in all cases, the funding agency policies draw on the following incentives and enablers: [Note: omitting table.] ...

The emerging institutional policies still remain ad hoc and do not appear to be well coordinated. To develop uniform data sharing policies and put them into practice, the institutions will currently require significant help and guidance. ...