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Frequently asked questions

  • What are research data?

    In the "OECD principles and guidelines for access to research data from public funding" research data are defined as " factual records (numerical scores, textual records, images and sounds) used as primary sources for scientific research, and that are commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings. A research data set constitutes a systematic, partial representation of the subject being investigated. This term does not cover the following: laboratory notebooks, preliminary analyses, and drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or personal communications with colleagues or physical objects (e.g. laboratory samples, strains of bacteria and test animals such as mice). Access to all of these products or outcomes of research is governed by different considerations than those dealt with here." (OECD, 2007)

    NSD can archive all types of digitalised research data, both quantitative and qualitative. You can find a list of NSD's preferred file formats here.

  • Who will have access to my research data?

    When you archive data with NSD, you regulate how accessible the data will be for reuse through an archiving agreement. You keep the ownership of your data when you archive at NSD.

  • What will happen to my research data after deposit?

    You will find more information about NSDs archiving procedures here.

  • What should I consider before collecting data?

    Before collecting new data it is wise to put together a data management plan. See NSD's checklist for useful information on how to create a data management plan.

  • Is my data material too small to be archived?

    Even if the data material is limited in both scope and field, this will not necessarily limit subsequent use of the data. Research data that were collected for a specific project may be of value to other researchers later – also across disciplines.

    If you have received funding from the Research Council of Norway, you may be obliged to archive the collected data material with NSD at project completion.

  • What if the data material is too big or in other ways not suitable for sending by email?

    Contact NSD at, and we will help you to find another suitable solution.

  • Our institution has a separate archive with good backup procedures. Am I still obliged to archive my data with NSD?

    If you have received funding from the Research Council of Norway on the condition that the data is archived with NSD, you are obliged to archive the data with NSD. It will nevertheless always be useful to archive a copy of your research data with NSD. One important purpose of NDS's work is to promote empirical research by making research data available also across local institutional boundaries. NSD does not conduct its own research on the archived data, but disseminates the research data by lending it to qualified borrowers. NSD is one of the world’s biggest research data archives and providers of data and data services to the research sector.

  • My informants have not given their consent to the interviews being shared outside this project. Can I nevertheless archive the data with NSD?

    Unless the respondents' consent forms explicitly state/express that the data will be deleted at project completion, anonymised interview data can be archived.

  • Could my qualitative interview data be misinterpreted by researchers who are unfamiliar with its context?

    The best way of reducing the risk of misinterpretation is to highlight the context. NSD documents all data sets down to the variable level: questions from the questionnaire are registered and references to any publications are added. This reduced the risks of misinterpretation. At the same time, NSD requires all borrowers to include a standard disclaimer of liability in any publications. This ensures that the data owner, data supplier and funding institution are not held accountable for what is written in the borrower's publication.

  • How can I find out what my research data have been used for?

    NSD registers all loans of data and requires all borrowers to submit a copy of any reports and publications based on the data. If you want information about what projects have used your data, you can contact

  • I plan to publish further articles based on my research data. Can I postpone archiving the data with NSD?

    NSD recommends that you archive a copy of the data as soon as possible after the data have been collected to protect the data against deletion and other forms of destruction. It is possible to include a time limitation clause for use of the data, so that they will not be available for lending until after the project period is concluded or you are done publishing. Remember to forward a final copy of the data if they have been changed.

    If the data belong to a project funded by the Research Council of Norway that is subject to an archiving duty, it is possible to request deferred archiving for up to two years after the end of the funding period.

  • What is meant by 'project completion'?

    Project completion is the time at which the original purpose of the processing of personal data has been achieved and the data material is to be either anonymised/deleted or archived pending follow-up studies etc.

  • What are personal data?

    Personal data is an item of information / an assessment that can be linked to a person. The information can for example be linked to a person via a personal ID number, name, email address / IP address or reference number that refers to a list of names, via a photo/video of faces or a compilation of background information.

  • What are directly personally identifiable data?

    Data that make a person directly identifiable such as a name, personal/national ID number or other characteristics that are unique to one individual.

  • What are indirectly personally identifiable data?

    A person is indirectly identifiable if he/she can be identified by background information such as municipality of residence or institutional affiliation combined with information about age, gender, occupation, diagnosis etc.

  • What are sensitive personal data?

    Sensitive personal data are items of information relating to racial or ethnic origin; political opinions, philosophical or religious beliefs; that a person has been suspected of, charged with, indicted for or convicted of a criminal act; health; sexual orientation or trade-union membership.

  • What are de-identified personal data?

    Data are regarded as de-identified if names, personal ID numbers or other personally identifiable data are replaced by a number, a code, false names etc. that refer to a separate list of the directly identifiable data. Please note that also indirectly identifiable personal data must be placed in wide categories or be removed in order for the data to be regarded as de-identified. By wide categories is meant, for example, that a region is used instead of specific municipalities or towns, that age intervals (10–19 years, 20–29 years etc.) are used instead of specific ages etc. The only way to identify individuals in de-identified data material should be through the list of names/the key.

    De-identified data are deemed to be personal data regardless of who keeps the list of names and where and how it is stored.

  • What are anonymous data?

    Anonymous data are items of information that cannot in any way identify individuals in the data material directly through names or personal ID numbers, indirectly through background variables, or through a list of names / connection key or encryption formula or code. Anonymising data means, for example, to delete/shred any links to lists of names, email addresses and IP addresses and to categorise or, if relevant, delete any indirectly personally identifiable data. If any audio or video recordings (that can identify individuals) have been made in connection with the project, they must also be deleted/shredded or blanked out if the data material is to be anonymous. Once the data have been anonymised, it should not be possible to connect individuals to the data.

    Note that, in order for data material to be regarded as anonymous, raw data must also be anonymised. Data material is not deemed to be anonymous if only the data to be published in the report, article, master's thesis etc. are anonymised.

  • What is meant by 'personal data filing system'?

    Lists of information about e.g. pupils broken down by names, addresses, personal ID numbers etc. are typical examples of 'personal data filing systems', e.g. registers etc. where personal data are stored systematically so that information about individuals can retrieved. If the information is listed in a random/disorganised order, it is not deemed to constitute a 'personal data filing system'.

  • What is meant by 'personal data processing'?

    All use of personal data, e.g. collection, registration, collation, storage and disclosure.

  • What is meant by 'data controller'?

    The data controller is the institution/enterprise/other legal entity that decides the purpose of the personal data processing and what means shall be used. The data controller can thereby be e.g. a university, university college, health trust or a research institute represented by the senior management. Data controller is a formal position that involves requirements for compliance with a number of statutory obligations.

  • What is meant by 'data processor'?

    The data processor is a person or enterprise outside the data controller's organisation that processes personal data on behalf of the data controller. By law, it is a requirement that this relationship is regulated by agreement. See NSDs' data processing agreement (draft).

Contact NSD at dataarkivering@nsd.noif you have any other questions about the archiving of data.

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