Science Europe approaches research data as a broad concept, embracing a variety of factual material such as numerical data, text, video, and audio materials.
Access to and sharing of research data are central pillars of Open Science, a concept that Science Europe members fully support through their daily activities as Research Performing Organisations (RPOs) and Research Funding Organisations (RFOs). Accordingly, Science Europe believes that that research data should be permanently, publicly and freely available for re-use.
Science Europe is committed to supporting data sharing by contributing to the definition and use of consistent data-sharing policies and practices. This includes identifying legitimate reasons for delayed or restricted access when necessary. In addition, it is crucial to enable access to and sharing of data by resolving data management issues.
Until 2016, the Science Europe Working Group on Research Data worked on fundamental aspects of research data, such as funding of data management infrastructures and legal aspects related to copyright and Text and Data Mining (TDM).
Since summer 2016 the Working Group has focused on the topic of Research Data Management Protocols (RDMP), a crucial aspect of Open Science and data management.
RFOs and RPOs increasingly require researchers to develop a Data Management Plan (DMP) when they write a project proposal, or to report on their data management policies and practices when being evaluated. To date, a large variety of DMP templates exist across funders, institutions, countries and disciplines, with little alignment on how much detail is needed or useful.
Researchers need to learn about DMPs for their research funding applications; and funders need to organise the review of these DMPs. The implementation of DMPs also needs proper monitoring, although processes to do this are not yet in place.
The Working Group is currently formulating a framework for protocols for the collection and management of data within specified disciplinary domains and research communities. Such protocols, called Domain Data Protocols (DDPs), are defined as generally agreed-upon guidelines, or predefined, written procedural methods. One might also conceive a DDP as a ‘model DMP’ for a given domain.
Whereas research data management contexts and contents differ, the policy challenges that research organisations face are largely similar. There will be a set of core issues that will be faced by researchers and repositories alike, for example in terms of data collection and preservation.
Given these above-mentioned differences, protocols that are tailored to specific contexts are likely to be of more use than generic, universal ones; as a result, a ‘modular’ approach is preferred. The Working Group is currently developing a set of framework areas for different protocols, enabling the users (funders and researchers) to decide which are the most useful and applicable for their situations.
As from summer 2017, the Working Group will continue dealing with different aspects of Research Data Management (RDM). Building on the work of the previous year, means of promotion and implementation of the framework should be sought. Furthermore, the WG will look into other aspects of RDM and if there is potential for collaboration with other initiatives.
As a second work strand, the Working Group will deal with topics around the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).