Handbook on open access to research data
The handbook aims to create increased understanding of what open access to research data means. It also raises related issues, such as FAIR data management and data management plans.
Frequently asked questions on open access to research data
Open access to research data means that research data are published freely available on the internet. If these data can be used and reused with no conditions other than stating the source, they are defined as ‘open access research data’.
FAIR is an internationally adopted concept that means that research data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. The concept is constructed from 15 guiding principles. If the data management fulfils all the principles, the research data can be defined as ‘FAIR’.
For more information on how data management plans and the FAIR principles relate to each other, please see p. 32–33 in Science Europe’s report below, where the issues in the central parts are linked to the different principles.
If you are conducting research at a Swedish governmental higher education institution, your work is covered by the research principal’s* requirements for archiving and screening. It is important that you contact your research principal to learn about the guidelines and procedures for archiving and sifting that apply in your organisation. Other research principals outside the public sector may also be covered by the requirements above.
Research data shall be archived at the public agency, such as a higher education institution, where the research has been conducted. The archive personnel, data protection officer or lawyers in your organisation can provide help on issues of how to go about this. Most higher education institutions have personnel who can provide both practical help and advice.
Storage of personal data
There are rules that may require you to sift out personal data already while your research project is in progress. For example, personal data may only be processed for as long as necessary to fulfil the purpose of the processing. Personal data that is no longer needed shall therefore be removed, in a way that ensures regulations and archiving and sifting requirements are complied with and fulfilled.
What is the difference between ‘storage’ and ‘long-term preservation’?
Storage means the technical storage of data. Long-term preservation means that you also ensure that data can be found and understood over time, for example by adding relevant metadata.
*The research principal is the physical or legal entity within whose organisation the research is conducted, such as a higher education institution, a municipality, a public agency or a private company.
The teacher exclusion clause is an exclusion from the right to employees’ inventions as stated in Swedish legislation on rights to inventions at work (SFS 1949:345). Research data is normally not covered by the teacher exclusion clause. To find out what applies for specific research data, please contact your higher education institution.
No, the fact that research data are official documents does not mean the same thing as open access, that is, that research data can be published freely available on the internet.
The EU’s Open Data Directive replaces the previous Open Data and Public Sector
The EU’s Open Data Directive replaces the previous Open Data and Public Sector Information Directive, known as the ‘PSI Directive’. The PSI Directive was implemented in Sweden via PSI legislation (Lagen om vidareutnyttjande av handling från den offentliga förvaltningen, SFS 2010:566). Higher education institutions are currently exempted from the requirement in the PSI legislation to maintain lists of the types of documents that can usually be reused, but on the other hand libraries at HEIs are included.
Research data are covered by the new Open Data Directive to the extent they are publicly funded, and when access to such data is possible according to the principle “as open as possible and as limited as necessary”.
The Directive states that it shall be implemented in Swedish legislation no later than 17 July 2021. We do not currently know how the implementation in Sweden will be effected, and whether it might impact on existing legislation. The ‘Open Data Inquiry’, aimed at investigating this, has published an interim report.
If you have any questions about how your research data will be made accessible, please contact the legal department at your HEI.
Frequently asked questions about data management plans
The Swedish Research Council has been mandated to coordinate the work of introducing open access to research data in Sweden. The requirement for data management plans is part of this work, and promotes what is known as ‘good data management’. Good data management is important to ensure research data can be used, quality assessed, preserved and be made available openly on the internet.
The requirement for data management plans applies to the Swedish Research Council’s grants for research generating research data.* The requirement applies to all who are awarded grants as from spring 2019.
*Exceptions are grants to organisations/organisation grants, network grants and conference grants.
You must produce a data management plan describing how data collected or created in your research will be managed – both while you carry out the research and afterwards.
Your administrating organisation is responsible for ensuring a data management plan is produced, and that the plan is maintained.
Is there a template I can use?
When you produce your data management plan, you can use the template produced by the Swedish Research Council and the Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions (SUHF). It consists of six central parts that a data management plan should cover.
Shall I send the data management plan to the Swedish Research Council?
Your application to the Swedish Research Council may include funding for all types of project-related costs. However, parts of the data management, such as storage of data, may be the responsibility of your higher education institution, and should therefore be funded by it.
What applies for costs of drawing up a data management plan?
Project-related costs for Swedish Research Council grants only refer to costs that arise during the grant period, which normally starts on 1 January. The data management plan must be drawn up before the research starts, however. On condition that the costs of drawing up a data management plan can be directly attributed to the project in question, and the costs arise during the project period (grant period) and not before, they may be included.
If you have any questions about how to handle and store your research data, please contact your higher education institution.
The Swedish Research Council’s website Registerforskning.se External link. has general information on what applies when you use register data in your research.