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Open access to research data

The Research Council’s Policy on Open Access to Research Data aims to ensure that such data are accessible to relevant users, on equal terms, and at the lowest possible cost. The guidelines in the policy apply to all data generated by projects funded by the Research Council – with a few exceptions.

Better access to research data enhances the quality of research in that results can more readily be validated and verified and datasets can be used in new ways and in combination with other datasets. Open access to research data also helps to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and may pave the way for more interdisciplinary research.

Exceptions to the general rule
Some data may not be made openly accessible as a matter of course. Data must not be made openly accessible if doing so could pose a threat to personal or national security or conflict with the applicable statutory framework regarding the protection of personal privacy or other legal provisions.   

Data that have commercial value and are generated in projects in which a company is the contractual partner with the Research Council may be exempted from the general principle of open access. In these cases, it is recommended that the data are made available after a certain period of time, for instance after three or five years. Data that are highly impractical or costly to make accessible may also be exempted from the general principle of open access.

Recommendations, not requirements
The policy is formulated as a set of recommendations – not requirements. The Research Council’s various funding instruments will be adapted to accommodate the principles in the policy. One possible measure is to introduce a requirement that research projects incorporate data management plans. The Research Council would use these plans as a basis for accepting data archiving costs as part of the operational expenses of funded projects. In addition, the Research Council will focus on encouraging the establishment of well-designed infrastructure for data storage and data management, in part through the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure.