Funders' research data policies
Many funders, including the Research Councils, the European Commission, the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust, have policies requiring researchers to preserve and share data that support research findings.
The following elements are common to most funders' policies:
- Applicants for grant funding are expected to submit a data management plan (DMP) as part of their application. (EPSRC does not ask for a DMP at application, but expects DMPs to exist for funded projects.) The University provides guidance on writing a data management plan for a grant application, including downloadable data management plan guides for applicants to AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, the European Commission (Horizon 2020) and NERC.
- Data supporting the research outcomes should be preserved and shared on completion of the project and publication of findings by being deposited in a suitable public data repository wherever possible. While access to data may be restricted with justification (for example, to protect confidential information), data should be made as accessible as possible, and appropriate measures should be taken to enable data sharing (for example, anonymising participant-derived data). The University provides guidance on preserving and sharing data.
- Effective data management requires time and effort, and may require the use of paid-for resources/services, e.g. for storage and archiving. It is appropriate to seek funds for data management activities and costs, and these should be priced into project budgets where possible.
The Digital Curation Centre provides summaries of the policies of the following major funders of research, with links to relevant pages on the funders' websites:
- Arts and Humanities Research Council
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
- Cancer Research UK
- Economic and Social Research Council
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- European Commission
- Medical Research Council
- Natural Environment Research Council
- Science and Technology Facilities Council
- Wellcome Trust
UKRI Common Principles on Data Policy
The UKRI Common Principles on Data Policy articulate a framework for research data policies that is subscribed to by all the Research Councils. The keystone of this framework is the first principle:
Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner that does not harm intellectual property.
From this follow the other principles, which can be summarised in the following terms:
- Data with acknowledged long-term value should be preserved and remain accessible and usable for future research.
- Published results should include information on how to access the supporting data, in the form of a data access statement or data availability statement and a full data citation.
- Not all data can or should be shared. There may be legal, ethical and commercial constraints on release of research data.
- Researchers are entitled to a limited period of privileged use of the data they have collected, to enable them to publish the results of their research.
- The management and sharing of data is integral to research activity and it is appropriate to use public funds for these purposes.
Many other public funders in the UK and worldwide subscribe to these or similar broad principles, and many will provide funding in support of data management and sharing activities.