Yesterday, Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, signed the Sorbonne Declaration on research data rights.
Signing the declaration publicly states the research community’s commitment to sharing data, using FAIR data principles, and recognises the importance of sharing data in solving global concerns – for example, curing diseases, creating renewable energy sources, or understanding climate change. The declaration builds on and complements the Concordat on Open Research Data signed by Universities and funders in 2016, and the final report from the UK’s Open Research Data Task Force published in 2018.
The declaration was also signed by the Association of American Universities, the African Research Universities Alliance, Coordination of French Research-Intensive Universities, the German U15, the League of European Research Universities, Research University 11, The Group of Eight, and the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, collectively representing 160 research institutions across Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
In practice, the declaration underscores the commitment of Russell Group members and other similarly positioned research universities to encourage data sharing across institutions and geographical borders – by integrating FAIR data principles into institutional research data policies and supporting researchers in sharing data through training and rewards – which is fairly ubiquitous across similar declarations and documents. However, it also reiterates the need for an interoperable global research data environment which includes instruments and repositories which can work with each other, and asks that funders and governments provide funding and resources to facilitate this, and avoid lock-in to commercial platforms and data services, in the true spirit of ‘openness’.
New decade, new focus, new partnerships, all with an eye on the path for progress.
We have visited a lot of health researchers over the last month. Clinicians and researchers are spread across the University’s sites, so we’ve focused on providing our Open Research workshops for Health Sciences researchers where they work, starting in Canynge Hall and Dorothy Hodgkin Building. We have future plans to run the workshop at hospital sites such as Southmead, to support clinical researchers in situ.
The workshops cover Open Access publications and funder requirements, depositing papers and theses in Pure, Research Data Management, the data.bris repository, the Research Data Storage Facility and researcher metrics, so it’s a broad overview of how researchers can take steps be more open across the board. Plenty of questions came up, and it was really thought-provoking to hear researchers talk about their different career paths and their motivations to do research.
In addition to the workshops, we were invited to talk at the Centre for Academic Primary Care’s (CAPC) monthly meeting about our process for sharing sensitive data with external researchers. This question arises not only because researchers at other institutions hear about research at Bristol, but also because of an increased requirement from funders and publishers to provide a means of access to data from publicly funded research. We often receive queries from researchers working with sensitive data and whilst the themes are mostly the same, the circumstances of each case often requires careful consideration, so it was a great opportunity to learn about the issues CAPC researchers face and discuss how we can support them.
At CAPC we defined sensitive data in the context of research involving human participants. We discussed the circumstances where anonymisation is either not possible, or where anonymising would strip value from the dataset. Researchers were particularly interested in the process we have for sharing sensitive data through the research data repository, data.bris, and how we have access levels specifically designed for this purpose. We talked about how decisions to share are made via a Data Access Committee, how we check researchers are bona fide, and what is covered by data access agreements. We were also able to emphasise the importance of getting consent sheets worded in a way that makes it simple for researchers to share sensitive data. Off of the back of this talk, we’ve assisted three researchers with their consent form wording and ethics applications and prevented snags further down the line at the publication stage, so it was a worthwhile visit.
It also gave us the opportunity to give researchers a taster of the kinds of issues we’ll be covering at our upcoming workshops ‘Managing ethically sensitive research data: from planning to sharing,’ and interest was piqued so spaces filled very quickly! However, there are waitlists running and we will be repeating the workshop in the Autumn term and beyond.
We’re all in the festive spirit here at the Research Data Service, and so Data Claus (pictured below) set us elves the challenge of finding data relating to the Twelve days of Christmas.
There were lively debates about what could be justified as the right data for each day, and lots of imaginative searching. Admittedly, some of the data is a little left-field (leaping Lords were an issue) but, we managed it.
If you want to know about the gold content in rings, would like to listen to songbirds or are interested in breastfeeding rates in the UK eight weeks post-partum, follow us on Twitter and enjoy our #12daysofdata.
Guest blog post from the University of Bristol Research Data Service (data.bris.ac.uk), featuring extracts from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
What may be the first ever Data Management Plan has been discovered by archivists at the University of Ingolstadt.
The fascinating document describes the applicant’s intention to make exciting advances in the fields of biochemistry and human physiology. Archivist Lizzie Lavenza told us: “We don’t know whether or not Victor successfully completed his project but we’re grateful that he’s left us with such a unique and invaluable historical document.”
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