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Close up of a printed circuit board
Close up of a printed circuit board © Miguel Á. Padriñán

Sustainable Research Data

Sharing and re-using data to reproduce research and build upon it, are a cornerstone of Open Science. To do this, research data need to be preserved long-term and access to them must be sustainable.

What are the challenges?

Preserving, sharing, and re-using research data are linked with challenges and costs that require resources and skills at both individual and organisational level: 

  • Research funders, performers, and infrastructures need to be committed to sustainable data preservation and interoperability, and have the right policies in place. 
  • Infrastructures must be set up and supported in a sustainable way to store and manage data long-term. 
  • Researchers and data librarians need training and time dedicated to proper data management. 
  • Appropriate technologies need to be available to ensure that data can be accessed and re-used in the long term. 

Our collective responsibility

In a complex research landscape, with a network of actors with different priorities and responsibilities, everyone has to recognise and take responsibility for the roles they play. The sustainability of research data needs to be addressed collaboratively. 

Research funding and performing organisations should harmonise their approaches in collaboration with other parties, such as data infrastructures. Aligned policies and requirements can limit the collective effort needed and increase the usefulness of research data management. 

What is Science Europe doing to support the development of sustainable research data?

Science Europe is currently developing a tool to create a common understanding of the approaches needed by the different stakeholders involved. It will support the harmonisation of these approaches and the alignment of policies and requirements for sustainable data management. 

The tool will allow organisations to evaluate their current status and optimise their progress towards sustainable data sharing, according to their strategic priorities. It will also provide indications on the necessary next steps for interested organisations and foster dialogue with like-minded organisations. 

The aim is for the tool to be used by research funding organisations, research performing organisations, and research data infrastructures across Europe. A draft version of the tool was presented and discussed with experts from RFOs, RPOs and data infrastructures during an online workshop on 14 January 2021. Its release is scheduled for spring 2021.