Policy Recommendations for Open Access to Research Data in Europe

 

 

Background

The Policy RECommendations for Open Access to Research Data in Europe (RECODE) project leveraged existing networks, communities and projects to address challenges within the open access and data dissemination and preservation sector to produce policy recommendations for open access to research data based on existing good practice.

RECODE found that the open access to research data sector includes several different networks, initiatives, projects and communities that are fragmented by discipline, geography, stakeholder category (publishers, academics, repositories, etc.) as well as other boundaries. Many of these organisations are already addressing key barriers to open access to research data, such as stakeholder fragmentation, technical and infrastructural issues, ethical and legal issues, and state and institutional policy fragmentation. However, these organisations are often working in isolation or with limited contact with one another. RECODE provided a space for European stakeholders interested in open access to research data to work together to provide common solutions for these issues through providing evidence-based, over-arching, and stakeholder specific, recommendations for a policy framework to support open access to European research data.

The RECODE partners identified relevant stakeholders, built upon and strengthened existing stakeholder engagement mechanisms. The project produced studies of good practice and exchanged good practice principles with relevant stakeholders and institutions during its networking activities. The RECODE project culminated in a final conference where the partners presented a series of policy recommendations for open access to research data targeted at different stakeholders and policy-makers.

 

Objectives

The RECODE project had the following main objectives:

  • To reduce stakeholder fragmentation in the area of open access to and dissemination and preservation of research data through: the identification of relevant networks and the facilitation of dialogue and collaboration between these networks
  • To identify stakeholder values and inter-relationships to identify synergies and areas of conflict and promote collaboration on shared problems and solutions
  • To identify gaps, tensions and good practice solutions for infrastructural and technological, legal, ethical, institutional and policy issues relating to the sharing of data
  • To use five case studies to examine each of these areas across disciplinary boundaries
  • To use stakeholder collaboration exercises to identify and promote over-arching good practice policy solutions
  • To produce a set of guidelines that identify, promote and disseminate good practice solutions for the sharing of scientific data to stakeholders across the open access and data dissemination and preservation landscape

 

Our role

Trilateral was the project co-ordinator and leader of Work Package 3, which focused on identifying legal and ethical obstacles, barriers and solutions in relation to open access and data dissemination and preservation across Member States and third countries from the perspectives of a range of different stakeholders.

 

Outputs

D1.1 Stakeholder values and ecosystems

D2.1 Infrastructure and technology challenges

D3.1 Legal and ethical issues in open access and data dissemination and preservation

D4.1 Institutional barriers and good practice solutions

D5.1 Policy guidelines for open access and data dissemination and preservation.  Full report and Summary Booklet

D6.1 Feasibility of using existing open access networks to support the harmonization of open access

 

Impact

The primary impact of the RECODE project was the intervention into the policy framework of the European Commission, Member States and stakeholder organisations with respect of open access to and preservation of research data. The RECODE project collected data from across the EU and beyond to provide good practice recommendations for a range of different stakeholders, including research funders, research institutions, data managers and publishers.

Debates about access to scientific data and the storage and preservation of data produced by scientific research, and more broadly about the democratisation of scientific and technological research, are high on the agendas of many research organisations, universities and science and education sectors of government across Europe. It is also a growing area of research in and of itself. The RECODE project was positioned in the midst of these debates and sought to understand the different stakeholder needs and motivations and use these to build robust overarching and stakeholder specific recommendations so that the open access to data agenda would be moved forward.  The RECODE project held five workshops, which were attended by 168 stakeholders from 35 countries.

The RECODE policy recommendations were based on research work and extensive stakeholder consultation and validation throughout the project.  The overarching stakeholder recommendations touch on the key barriers identified such as lack of funding and infrastructure, the need to identify and assign roles and responsibilities and concerns over legal and ethical implications of making research data open, especially human and location data.   The recommendations were targeted broadly, so that all stakeholders, irrespective of how advanced they are in the move towards open access of research data and within which institution or role they sit, could use of them to move forward.

The policy recommendations were launched at the project´s final conference, which was attended by over 150 stakeholders from all groups.  The policy recommendations are available for download as pdf on the project website and the consortium also built a specific recommendations portal, with short and easily digestible texts and FAQs on how to move forward with open access to research data.  The portal also has videos, which detail challenges and solutions for each stakeholder group, which the recommendations address.

The RECODE consortium used the project findings and the policy recommendations to educate early-career researchers across EU countries and disciplines on the opportunities from and barriers to open access to research data.  The two-day workshop was hosted at The University of Sheffield in May 2015 and was attended by 35 early career researchers.  The workshop introduced the concept of open access to research data and provided support in hands-on sessions for researchers who worked through how they might go about making their data open, what resources there are, what practices must be adopted and to what extent their data is amenable for open access.  The workshop received excellent feedback from attendees.

 

Funding info

The RECODE project received funding from the European Research

and Innovation programme FP7 under grant agreement number 321463