Research data is information that is collected or generated in the research process. A growing number of research funding bodies and decision makers are taking the initiative in preserving research data long-term and making it readily accessible.
There are many benefits to making data available. Open data provides increased transparency and reliability for research studies. It also makes it possible to find and reuse data in future projects.
What is research data?
Research data is material collected or created in a research project to be used as a basis for analysis and validation of research results. It can be anything from measurement results and observations to computer code, images and audio files. Research data can consist of both analogue and digital information. Both the Swedish Research Council and the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme categorise research data as data that is produced with government funds to be used for scientific purposes.
CODEX is a website operated by the Swedish Research Council and Uppsala University that aims to provide knowledge about the ethical guidelines and laws that regulate the research process. There is also information there about how to manage data and research documents.
Data management refers to how the research material is handled, organised and preserved during the research process. Several research funding bodies today require that a data management plan be included in applications for funding, such as Wellcome Trust and the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. As from spring 2019, all who receive grants from the Swedish Research Council, must have a plan for how the research data generated within the project shall be managed. The plan must not be sent when applying for a grant, but it must be in place when starting a new project and be maintained.
A data handling plan (DHP) or data management plan (DMP) is an effective way to exercise control over data management. The data management plan is a formal document that should contain information about how data is collected and managed during the research project, and how it is taken care of afterwards. A DHP can facilitate collaboration and access to data and also clarify security issues. More information about data handling is available at the Swedish National Data Service (SND).
In 2018 the association of European research funding organisations, Science Europe, launched a framework for data management protocols to make it easier for researchers to administer their research data.
SHERPA/JULIET is a database that lists and provides information on research funding bodies.
Citing research data
Research data can also be cited in the same way as articles in research journals. A prerequisite is that the dataset is provided with a persistent identifier such as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or Uniform Resource Names for National Bibliography Numbers (URN:NBN). Publication of research data can create more opportunities for researchers to acquire qualifications, such as citations and registered downloads. In this way it is possible to gain recognition for more contributions to the research process, and not just publications of articles.
DataCite is an organisation working to make research data citable, including by helping data archives assign DOIs to their datasets.
- Examples of data citing with DOIs (DataCite)
- “Fler citeringar med återbruk av data” (More citations with reuse of data), Swedish-language article in the Swedish Research Council’s web magazine, Curie.
In the autumn of 2012, Clarivate launched a citation index for research data, Data Citation Index. Clarivate has previously made available a scientific citation index for research publications, and Clarivate is the organisation that calculates the impact factors of journals.
Open access to research data
Research data is a valuable resource that often requires a lot of time and money to produce. That is why a growing number of research funding bodies demand that researchers who receive funding give thought to how the collected data will be taken care of, be documented and in what form it can be made available for future research.
On the basis of the European Commission’s recommendations to member states, in 2015 the Swedish Research Council submitted a proposal for national guidelines on open access to research information to the government. The vision for 2015–2020 is that all research data produced with public funds is to be made readily available. During these years pilot calls for proposals are to be implemented with requirements that the research data be made readily available.
It’s possible to upload the datasets in DiVA (Academic Archive Online) to make it readily available or to simply archive it. The dataset receives a unique ID (URN:NBN) and a persistent link that you can use to refer to the material in a publication. To make it easier to find research data, you can also link from publications in DiVA to datasets that are readily available in other databases.
In the re3data.org register, you can search for data archives in different subject areas.
In addition to DiVA, you can also make the data available in: