Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 June 2018
The UK data policy landscape
Data management drivers
The open access movement underpins many of the drivers for research data management. In 2007, the 30 member countries that form the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding (2007). Central to these 13 principles is the notion that publicly funded research data is a public good, produced in the public interest, and should be openly available to the maximum extent possible. This expectation of public access to publicly funded research data is apparent in the rhetoric of most ensuing data policies.
Co-ordinating bodies such as Research Councils UK (RCUK) have issued similar codes and principles to inform research governance. In its publication Expectations for Societal and Economic Impact RCUK notes that those who receive funding are expected to ‘take responsibility for the curation, management and exploitation of data for future use’ (RCUK, 2008). More detailed requirements are noted in the Policy and Code of Conduct on the Governance of Good Research Conduct (RCUK, 2009). This states that researchers and their research organizations are jointly responsible for the proper management and preservation of data and primary materials, and have a duty to:
• keep clear and accurate records of the research procedures followed and the results obtained, including interim results
• hold records securely in paper or electronic form
• make relevant primary data and research evidence accessible to others for reasonable periods after the completion of the research: data should normally be preserved and accessible for ten years, but for projects of clinical or major social, environmental or heritage importance, for 20 years or longer
• manage data according to the research funder's data policy and all relevant legislation
• wherever possible, deposit data permanently within a national collection.
Similar requirements are put forward in the Code of Practice for Research issued by the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO, 2009). This puts forward the notion of planning data management at an early stage of the design of the project, stating that researchers should consider how data will be gathered, analysed, managed and made available to others. The Code also offers a helpful one-page checklist for researchers to support good practice.