Four of Britain’s leading research organisations have set out a series of clear and practical principles for working with research data.
The Concordat on Open Research Data, launched on 28 July, was developed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), Research Councils UK, Universities UK (UUK) and the Wellcome Trust, although they also consulted more widely and hope that other organisations will sign up.
The goal is to ensure that data gathered and generated by UK researchers is made openly available for use by others wherever possible, while taking account of both the costs involved and the relevant legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks.
Among the 10 principles laid down in the concordat are the importance of developing data skills and ensuring the data underlying a paper or report are accessible by publication date; the rights of data creators to reasonable first use; and the expectation that data users will acknowledge where they draw on others’ data.
“Open research data has the potential to deliver significant benefits for society by enhancing the impact of our world-class research base,” comments Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of UUK. Her organisation welcomed the concordat, which it said “sets out the aspirations of the research community while recognising the costs and challenges that must be addressed if we are to realise these benefits”.
“Achieving open data is not easy,” added David Sweeney, director of research, education and knowledge exchange at Hefce.
“There are substantial challenges ahead which will require the commitment of everyone involved in research. This concordat is an important step towards securing this commitment. I would now encourage all those involved in research to sign up to the principles and engage with this agenda.”