Data policies are norms regulating management and publication of research data. They range from recommendations to enforcements. There is much variation in their scope and content across countries and across disciplines in single countries.

It is in the best interest of science policy makers, research funders, and research organizations to stimulate secondary use of research data by supporting open access to it. One key tool is guiding data producers to plan and implement data management so that it supports a long and vital life-cycle of the data. New data should be collected and archived so that re-use is not prevented.

Science publishers want to publish high quality research, and many of them have introduced data policies. Access to data of research findings helps to control the quality of research by allowing validation and/or correction of previous results through re-analysis, and helps to counteract against misconduct.

Many international organizations have promoted data sharing with recommendations as well. They have set up guidelines for access to research data. OECD report on Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding (2007) discusses aims and tools for data sharing in detail, and gives a comprehensive definition to ‘research data.’

According to this report, research data are “…factual records (numerical scores, textual records, images and sounds) used as primary sources for scientific research, and that are commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings. A research data set constitutes a systematic, partial representation of the subject being investigated.”

The definition is also accompanied with statements of what research data is not: “This term does not cover the following: laboratory notebooks, preliminary analyses, and drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or personal communications with colleagues or physical objects” (OECD 2007).


IFDO Survey

In 2012-2013, IFDO ran an expert survey on data policies in order to overview the situation in different countries. The main focus was on data policies of research funders and on the social sciences and humanities (SSH).

To view the survey results, click here.

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