Research data is an important part of research. It has to be managed properly so that it can be made as useful as possible for those working on it, and if possible for others who might find it useful later. When it comes to sharing data, the motto is "as open as possible, as closed as necessary".
What is research data?
Research data is the material that has been collected or generated by researchers throughout a project to serve as the basis for scientific analysis and validation of research results. Research data can be anything from measurements and observations to data code, pictures and sound files.
Because the university is a public authority, the Swedish principle of public access to information applies. This means that any public documents (allmän handling) can be requested by members of the public. Research data is classified as public documents, and must therefor be delivered on request unless they are covered by the secrecy act.
Why should I share research data?
Research data must be treated in accordance to good research practice, preserved in the long term, and made openly access according to the FAIR principles. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.
An increasing number of grant funders work to make research data open access and preserve it.
There are many benefits to sharing data, both for the individual researcher and for society in general.
Here are some advantages with sharing research data:
- Reuse of data saves time and resources. This promotes an effective use of research resources.
- Through citations and downloads, researchers can get merit. It makes it possible to control data quality, and that in turn makes the research process more transparent, which is helpful for reproducibility. This promotes trust in scientific studies.
- It opens new avenues of collaboration between research groups, both nationally and internationally.
- Research data is preserved in the long term, and made available as far as possible.
- It makes it possible for users outside of the research community to access research data.
There can also be reasons not to share the research data. Some of these can be:
- The research data contains personal data or other sensitive information.
- The research data is copyrighted by someone else.
- The research data lacks ethics approval or informed consent from participants.
- The research data contains propriety or financial information.
Conditions for sharing research data varies a lot between different research field, so in most cases it depends what kind of data it is.
The university's research data support function - DAU
The University's Data Access Unit (DAU) offers researchers and doctoral students support in questions about sharing and preserving research data.
The DAU isn't a discrete organizational unit, but should be regarded as a function that supports making the university's research data findable, accessible, and reusable. The function includes experts in specialized areas that are important in many cases, for example where funders have specific research data requirements.
The DAU can also offer training and support when it comes to data management, documentation and curation. The DAU can support researchers in the quality control of data sets and descriptions thereof, so that they are up to standards for accessibility and reuse. The DAU works closely with the Swedish National Data Service.
The DAU page on the university's website.
Contact the DAU: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the government's research bill 2016/17:50.
The government's goal is that all scientific publications that are the result of publicly funded research should be open access immediately upon publication. Likewise, research data that forms the basis for scientific publications should be openly available at the same time as the associated publication. A transition to open access to research results should take place gradually to ensure that it happens in a responsible way. For scientific publications, the transition can begin immediately, while further investigations of the forms of open access to research data and scientific works may be required. The goal is that a transition to open access to research results, including scientific publications, works of art and research data, should be completed in full within ten years, 2026.