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Report of the European Commission on Open Research Data

Report of the European Commission on Open Research Data

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Published by LJ's infoDOCKET
Published on October 21, 2013
Published on October 21, 2013

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Published by: LJ's infoDOCKET on Oct 21, 2013
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 Executive summary and key outcomes
The European Commission held a public consultation on open research data on 2 July 2013 inBrussels, which was attended by a variety of stakeholders from the research community,industry, funders, libraries, publishers, infrastructure developers and others. The debatefocused on five questions posed by the Commission to structure the debate and can besummarized as follows. Information on the consultation, including the agenda, the list of  participants, the list of contributions and the final report are available here:http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/node/67533. 
1) How can we define research data and what types of data should be open?
Definitions of research data vary, with some contributions defining research data as potentially all data (including public sector information), and some limiting it to data that isthe product of research. From the perspective of researchers, research data includes all datafrom an experiment, study or measurement, including metadata and details on processingdata. For publishers, data linked to publications is part of the publication.
2) When and how does openness need to be limited?
Potential limitations are connected with issues of public security, privacy and data protection,as well as intellectual property right (IPR) protection and possible commercialisation.Concerning public security, the potential use of data for terrorism was mentioned. Privacy anddata protection are seen as particularly relevant in areas like health, in particular for clinicaltrials and the issue of opening up negative results. For IPR and possible commercialisation of research results, representatives from industry expressed the view that data resulting from projects that are close to market should as a rule not be open, but may be opened on anindividual case-by-case basis.
3) How should the issue of data re-use be addressed?
This question led to discussions about licensing, but also about technical aspects of openresearch data. The discussion centred not just on whether and how data should be re-used, butalso on the adequacy of e-infrastructures for data re-use. In the context of re-use, the Directiveon the re-use of public sector information (2003/98/EC, currently under revision) wasmentioned several times. While public sector information (PSI) is distinct from research dataand governed by a specific directive, it is important to remember that this type of informationcan also be useful for research.
4) Where should research data be stored and made accessible?
The need for improved data management practices and better data accessibility is a keyconcern. These issues are closely linked with data preservation and the sustainability of datarepositories for data. The readiness of professionals to engage in data curation was alsohighlighted. All stakeholders agreed that any funding body policy on open research data mustcall on researchers to take the issue of data management seriously by developing datamanagement plans (DMPs) for their research projects.
5) How can we enhance data awareness and a culture of sharing?
Stakeholders consider data awareness and a culture of sharing to be one of the most important- if not
most important
but probably also the most difficult to address in formulating policy on open access to research data. One important way in which data awareness and aculture of sharing can be spread is by establishing mechanisms and processes to recognise andreward and even require good data sharing practices. Making it possible to publish and citedata (for example in data journals) is one major way forward in this respect.
Report of the Consultation
Technology is quickly changing the scope and potential of research, and this requires new policies in specific areas. One of these concerns the area of research data and the possibility of opening up research data in the digital age. In order to hear the views of stakeholders, theCommission (DG CONNECT and DG RTD) organised a public consultation on open researchdata, consisting of (i) a one day event where individual presentations and discussion could beheard (held on 2 July 2013 in Brussels), and (ii) a written consultation period (19 June to 15July 2013). Some 130 participants participated in the event 2 July event and 45 contributionswere received.Five lead questions were posed by the Commission:1)
How can we define research data and what types of data should be open?2)
How should the issue of data re-use be addressed?3)
When and how does openness need to be limited?4)
Where should research data be stored and made accessible?5)
How can we enhance data awareness and a culture of sharing?The following stakeholder groups were represented during the 2 July event and via writtencontributions: researchers, industry, research funders, libraries, publishers, infrastructuredevelopers and a separate category for "other voices" in order to facilitate contributors whofell into none of the above. The Commission was able to accommodate all requests for  participation.While the discussion was broken down into individual stakeholder groups, these minutesfollow the five questions posed. This format is intended to allow for the individual interests to be balanced clearly and effectively. These minutes will be published on the Commissionwebsite along with the slides presented and the written submissions received.
Welcome and introduction by the European Commission
The event was opened by Thierry Van der Pyl, Director of Excellence in Science at DGCONNECT and Octavi Quintana, Director of the European Research Area, DG RTD. ThierryVan der Pyl provided an overall framework for the event, stating that the Commissionstrongly advocates open science policies. He said that a policy on open research data can benefit science, business and citizens. Octavi Quintana introduced the five questions, whichhad been disseminated before to structure the event and the contributions.
1) How can we define research data and what types of research data should be open?
This question was addressed by all groups of contributors. Definitions of research data varied,with some contributions defining research data as potentially all data, and others limiting it todata that is the product of research and/or data that is used for research. From the perspectiveof researchers, research data are all data from an experiment, study or measurement, includingthe metadata and processing details. There was some acknowledgement that data should berestricted in certain cases, such as sensitive data and commercial data.
stressed the importance of data management plans (DMPs) and took theviewpoint that all data should be open by default. The Netherlands Organisation for AppliedScientific Research (
TNO, Department of Microbiology and Systems Biology)
noted thatwe need to consider research data resulting from participatory research and metadata. The
Istituto Superiore di Sanità
made the point that while research data and open data areclosely connected, the different nature of types of research data needs careful consideration,and also raised the point that data awareness needs to be created. The
Erasmus UniversiteitRotterdam
also mentioned the danger of making some data open, referring to the specificexample of genome sequencing. The question of patents was also raised during thiscontribution.
stressed the need for developing incentive systems and opportunities thatwould allow researchers who have data to share to be able to do so and be recognised. The
European Consortium of Innovative Universities
referred to differing needs and traditionsin different fields.
views research data as being potentially any type of data. The viewpoint put forward by
is that research data should be open on a case-by-case basis, particularly for research that is partially funded by industry. The
Federation of German Security andDefence Industries
put forwards four categories of research data related to research projects: biographic data of authors, metadata of the research project, the executive summary and thefull text of the final report. While the former three may be open, the latter as a rule should not be opened except on a case-by-case decision by the owning industry partner.For 
Research Funders
, data is considered a public good, and it must be possible to find andsearch it (as expressed by
Research Councils UK)
. The
Wellcome Trust
said that it wouldlike both publications and data to be openly available. The objective is to maximise benefit tothe public. The
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
stated thatnarrowing the concept of data to any specific type of data would not work and agreed with a broad definition of research data. The
Open Knowledge Foundation
state in their writtensubmission that research data is extremely heterogeneous and that it takes a variety of formsincluding numerical data, textual records, images, audio and visual data as well as customwritten software, other code underlying the research and pre-analysis plans. They also arguethat it should include metadata.The
Information Systems & e-Infrastructure
 perspective also contributed a range of views.The
Institute for the Study of Labour
proposed that research data is any data, and comparedthis to clues at a crime scene. They offer two definitions for research data, which are either "data suitable for research" or "any data that has been used to answer a research question isresearch data". The infrastructure project
added that when you see a piece of data, it is not necessarily clear whether it is research data or not. The
Data Archiving andNetworked Services (DANS)
said that it is important not to focus only on big data, but also

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