The RSS has expressed its support of a new agreement on open research data issued by the Open Research Data Forum, whose members include Research Councils UK, JISC, the Wellcome Trust and Universities UK.
The draft Concordat on Open Research Data aims to ensure that research data gathered in the UK is openly available wherever possible, but within relevant legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks.
Responding to a call for feedback on the draft (PDF), the RSS has expressed support, considering it ‘well thought through, and comprehensive with regard to its remit’. Much of the Concordat concurs with various aspects of the RSS's Data Manifesto, such as its call for faster progress on opening up data to boost innovation.
‘Open data and access to research needs to be prioritised by the government and by our academic and research industries, especially public access to research that is supported by public funding,’ the RSS states in its response. ‘Progress in these areas should also help to address the “reproducibility crisis”, where advances in science are limited by a lack of collaboration on the underlying data.’
The RSS acknowledges that there are risks to privacy that can arise from implementing new systems, and therefore welcomes the Forum’s principles that the use of data should conform to legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks. ‘Implementation must therefore be well considered so that the benefits of open access are widely seen to outweigh any risks,’ the RSS concludes.
The ten principles outlined in the Concordat are summarised as follows:
- Open access to research data is an enabler of high quality research, a facilitator of innovation and safeguards good research practice.
- Good data management is fundamental to all stages of the research process and should be established at the outset.
- Data must be curated so that they are accessible, discoverable and useable.
- Open access to research data carries a significant cost, which should be respected by all parties.
- There are sound reasons why the openness of research data may need to be restricted but any restrictions must be justified and justifiable.
- The right of the creators of research data to reasonable first use is recognised.
- Use of others‟ data should always conform to legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks including appropriate acknowledgement.
- Data supporting publications should be accessible by the publication date and should be in a citeable form.
- Support for the development of appropriate data skills is recognised as a responsibility for all stakeholders.
- Regular reviews of progress towards open access to research data should be undertaken.