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Open Research Data

14 February 2013

Open data

As the Research Councils, UK Government and the European Union gear up to ensure that research data is opened up to public access, the sharing and effective management of publicly funded research data is set to become a major priority for universities in 2013,

Cardiff’s vast research data will increasingly need to be securely managed and made available for discovery in line with the requirements of funding bodies.

The Royal Society published its Science as an Open Enterprise report in June 2012; this highlights the need to grapple with the deluge of data created by new technologies, and the opportunities this opens up for exploiting research data in new kinds of ways. Open data also provides opportunities to collaborate more effectively and obtain results more quickly – for example, the genome of a particular strain of E. coli, which was associated with recent cases of food poisoning in Germany, was analysed within weeks of its outbreak because of a global collaborative research effort, following the release of the genome sequence onto the internet as soon as it was available.

Open data isn’t just about Big Science, however. In the Social Sciences and Humanities there are now more opportunities than ever before to utilise huge online repositories of data, including digitised texts, manuscripts and corpuses, and open datasets such as the Home Office Street Level Crime database. Social Sciences and Humanities researchers are also producing large datasets themselves and need support in storing and managing these and making them more widely available.

Information Services, the Research and Commercial Division, and the Governance and Compliance Division are collaborating, together with colleagues from across the University, on the 12-month Research Data and Information Management Programme to establish requirements to enable the effective management of research data across the University. The Programme will also explore opportunities for collaboration and shared services with colleagues in other universities.

The Research Data and Information Management Programme will identify the requirements of researchers for good research data management and will flag up good practice and current ‘pain points’ around the University and elsewhere. The Programme will also review and recommend tools and services which can be used to streamline and simplify the process of managing research data to make it more easily accessible and visible, ultimately increasing the impact of our research.

Tracey Stanley, Deputy University Librarian, and Assistant Director with Information Services, explains: "The field of research data management has seen some real changes over the past years, with the requirement of transparency growing in line with the increasing use of open access publishing of the completed research.

"An important element of the programme will be ensuring that provision is made for the various research scenarios within the University," continued Tracey. "For example, there may be instances where sensitive or commercial data needs to be embargoed until the research has been published. We are also mindful of looking at the compliance requirements across the Research Councils to ensure that the services we recommend will meet these existing requirements and give us the flexibility to further develop the services into the future."

The solution selected during the programme will support the University’s management and submission of data for future REF exercises, providing essential future-proofing for the period beyond REF 2014.