Research data must be shared

The Research Council of Norway (RCN) has now adopted its first policy on open access to research data from publicly funded projects.

The main principle in the new policy is clear: Research data must be shared. Research data must “in general […] be accessible to relevant users, on equal terms, and at the lowest possible cost.” The fact that RCN now demonstrates its policy through guidelines for open access and sharing of data is very important in working towards national research data archives and common data services for Norwegian research. The new policy and the measures proposed as tools to implement it, will hopefully contribute to more researchers making their own data available to others.

The policy is formulated as a set of recommendations and also points out how the Research Council is planning on implementing it. The most important instrument is the proposed requirement for data management plans for new projects, accompanied with new procedures both in project processing and follow-up at the Research Council. Further on it is emphasized that the practice with contractual requirements of data archiving should be continued as an important tool in securing research to be verified and used for new research purposes. The importance of establishing and developing good infrastructures for data storing and management is also stressed.

NSD is a national archive for research data and work to make access to data as easy as possible. Since 1981, NSD has been responsible for archiving data from projects funded by RCN, and archiving requirements has been incorporated into the contract terms. The Council for Social Sciences (RSF) and the Council for Humanities (RHF) were pioneers in this area, passing rules on depositing and re-using data funded by the Research Council already in the early 1980s. In 1995 the Research Council of Norway decided that NSD should be the archive for RCN-funded projects within the areas of Environment and development, and Medicine and health.

Today, NSD is committed to make sure a copy of all data funded by the Research Council within social sciences, humanities, medicine and health, environment and development, is deposited and stored at NSD – making it accessible for new research purposes.

Upon agreement with the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (UHR) - NSD also offers archiving of data from all projects conducted by researchers and students at the Universities and state university colleges. Similar agreements have been signed between NSD and national research institutes, and other institutions that use NSD as their Data Protection Officer. The archiving services include storing of personal data.