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).
In summer 2016 the Working Group started to focus 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.
Researchers’ needs and organisations’ requirements differ depending on the discipline and the kind of research. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for research data management (RDM). In order to support disciplines in setting up discipline-specific DMP templates, Science Europe has published in January 2018 a Guidance Document Presenting a Framework for Discipline-specific Research Data Management. This framework aims to support research communities in setting up 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 ‘DMP template’ 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.
In summer 2017, the Working Group started to focus on different aspects of Research Data Management (RDM). An initiative has been launched in January 2018 that aims to seek voluntary alignment of RDM policies among funders in Europe. Two sets of recommendations will be presented in autumn 2018: Core Requirements for DMPs and Criteria to select Trusted Repositories.
Additionally, the Working Group looks into different aspects regarding the development of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).