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Research funds require stricter control of research data

Interview

2 September 2016

Bea Krenn is a senior advisor on Innovation Exchange Amsterdam’s IXA-UvA-HvA grant support team. The team helps researchers at UvA and AUAS submit complex subsidy applications.

‘We offer advice for individual subsidies such as NWO’s Veni, Vidi, and Vici grants and the European Research Council’s European Framework Program Horizon 2020 grants. We also advise on consortium applications for Dutch and EU H2020 research proposals. These funds make increasingly strict demands on Research Data Management (RDM). Researchers have to explain how they propose to manage their research data when they apply for a grant. They have to answer ever more RDM questions. We offer to review the questions with them and advise on which experts to consult.’

Growing demand for open access to data

‘Besides the demand for safe storage, archiving and accessibility, there is also a growing demand for open access to data. While UvA/AUAS policy promotes this, sometimes there are serious reasons not to allow open access. Consortium applications often involve commercial partners who less enthusiastic about open data due to intellectual property issues. We help researchers decide what should not be open. A major source of concern is the protection of personal data and privacy. Researchers need to be aware of the consequences for their project if they agree to open access.’  

Hidden RDM questions

‘For EU projects, RDM questions are often hidden in the administrative forms. These are frequently completed at the last moment, so that RDM issues, which can be quite complex, have to be decided with little opportunity to consider them carefully. They really do require time and attention; it is vital to consider the contractual obligations regarding your research data and whether you can actually meet these.’

Horizon 2020: open research data by default

‘Open access to academic publications has been a requirement for Horizon 2020 projects for several years. In 2015, Horizon 2020 launched a pilot in certain fields offering open access to research data with an opt-out guaranteed not to prejudice the evaluation. Sixty-five percent of applicants tried the pilot, i.e. they chose open access to research data.

In 2017, the default for Horizon 2020 applications for all fields will be ‘research data is open by default, with possibilities to opt out’. Applicants who opt out will have to state clearly why the research data should not be accessible. Possible reasons are: intellectual property rights, privacy or that open data may jeopardise the project goal. A Data Management Plan (DMP) is required for Open Research Data Pilot projects. Other projects can decide for themselves whether to provide a DMP.’

NWO: open access to data

NWO also wants data from research funded by public grants to be accessible and available for reuse. Their principle is open access to data, and limited access only if necessary. Since January 2015, NWO has offered a data management pilot for eight funding rounds. Researchers must answer four questions about data management in their application. If the subsidy is granted, researchers are required to turn their answers into a Data Management Plan within four months. From 1 October 2016, this two-stage process will apply for all calls for proposals. The RDM website offers templates for the RDM section in the application and the DMP.’

‘So it is vital to think about your approach to RDM when you write your research proposal. IXA-UvA-HvA and RDM Support are available for questions. We work closely with the RDM consultative platform which also includes Legal Affairs, Academic Affairs and ICTS. We know what’s going on and who to refer to for complex questions.’

Interview: Anneke de Maat

Published by  RDM support