The Swedish Research Council recommends that research data that is financed via public funds, and that applicable legislation allows to be published, should be published openly on the internet within a reasonable time after the research results have been published.
Legal and ethical aspects affect access
Determining what data can be published with open access shall always be based on applicable legislation. Some research data must not be published with open access due to legal or ethical aspects (if they are covered by secrecy legislation, or include personal data or copyright material, for example), but the options for publishing data may also be affected by other factors, such as the volume of the data sets.
If open access to research data cannot be provided, the reason why this is not possible should be documented.
Applicable to data created in the research process and forming the basis for publications
This recommendation relates to data that is created during the research process and forms the basis for scientific publications. If already existing data from other actors have been used, such as various types of public agency data, then these data only constitute research data if they have been analysed, processed or otherwise refined during the research process. Already existing data that have only been used in their original form and that are already managed and made accessible by another actor are not covered by this recommendation.
Metadata should also be published with open access
Both research data and data describing research data (known as ‘metadata’) should be published with open access. If there are obstacles to publishing research data, the focus should in the first instance be on making metadata openly accessible on the internet. In this way, users can find information on what research data exist, even when there are obstacles to open publication, for example lack of a suitable publication platform or technical limitations that prevent all data from being published.
Publication according to the FAIR principles
Publication of research data can be done using various digital platforms, for example via the higher education institution where the research is conducted or via other relevant national and/or international portals, infrastructures and similar organisations and platforms.
Data management according to FAIR
The Swedish Research Council recommends that the research data produced through research are managed according to the FAIR principles, clarified via the criteria developed by the Swedish Research Council to achieve FAIR data.
The FAIR principles should be implemented taking into account applicable legislation, and, as far as is possible and applicable, based on the technical, organisational and/or discipline-specific preconditions that apply.
The recommendation relates in the first instance to research data (and metadata) financed by public funds that can be published with open access, but the application of the FAIR principles can be made broader than this, and be relevant also for research data that cannot be published entirely openly. The recommendation on data management according to FAIR is overarching, and aims to create a common starting point for the implementation of FAIR data management.
Template for data management plans
The Swedish Research Council recommends that the template for data management plans produced by the Swedish Research Council and the Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions (SUHF) is used.
The template for data management plans is based on the ‘basic requirements’ set by Science Europe, and contains six common sections that a data management plan should describe. The template can, as necessary, be expanded with more questions to make local or discipline-specific adaptations. To support the template, an accompanying guide has been produced.
Why we recommend open access to research data
Since 2017, the Swedish Research Council has had a Government mandate to coordinate the national work of implementing open access to research data. The Swedish Government’s 2016 research policy bill set the goal for the transition to open access to research data to be fully implemented by 2026.
On 27 May 2016, the EU’s member states, including Sweden, adopted the European Council’s conclusions on the transition towards an open science system. The European Commission has also issued a recommendation on open access to research data and preservation of scientific information.
The Swedish Research Council’s recommendation is part of our work to promote a transition to open access to research data. Our view is that everybody should be given access to research data financed via public funds. Research can also move forward faster if research data become accessible, and more researchers can validate and continue building on previous results.