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Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs contain information that is specific to the German academic and funding landscape. For any more basic questions concerning research data management please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions compiled by the University of Gießen.


What are the specific requirements regarding research data management in DFG proposals?

The DFG's guidelines for the submission of proposals contain the following information under point 2.4 "Handling of research data obtained in the project":

"If project funds are used to systematically generate research data or information that is suitable for subsequent use by other researchers, please explain whether and how it will be made available to others. Please also take into account - if available - the standards existing in your discipline and the services offered by existing data repositories or archives. "

"If the subsequent usability of the resulting research data is closely related to research objects (tissue, cell lines, installation, materials, art objects, etc.), we ask you to also include information on the storage of these objects in the application."

↷ see also our article on Funder Guidelines

What kind of research data management costs can researchers submit to the DFG in their proposal?

According to the guidelines for the handling of research data of the DFG, the following funds can be applied for:

"Project-specific costs incurred within the framework of a scientific project in the preparation of research data for subsequent use or for the transfer of research data to existing infrastructures can be applied for within the DFG proposal. Funds can also be raised to finance the costs incurred for the use of relevant infrastructures. Funding can be provided for personnel costs, project-specific hardware and software as well as service fees. "

The DFG also supports the establishment and expansion of information infrastructures in the Information Infrastructures for Research Data programme. (

↷ see also our article on Funder Guidelines

Where can I find support in order to make research data available?

German funding institutions such as the DFG and the BMBF support the provision of research data, but projects in EU such as Horizon Europe can also apply for resources to manage the research data generated in the project.

↷ see also our article on Funder Guidelines

What are the concrete requirements of research funders (at the time of application) for the long-term management and accessibility of research data?

International and national research funding institutions require mandatory information on the further use and/or re-use of the data after the end of the project:

- EU: While the provision of a data management plan is not required until six months past the start of the project, the project proposal should outline how the data will be handled.

- DFG: Information on the handling of collected research data is recommended.

- BMBF: An usage plan for project results is demanded. This should include scientific and/or technical options for subsequent use.

The University of Nottingham's SHERPA / JULIET search engine provides information on the requirements concerning data handling of over 100 research-funding institutions.

↷ see also our article on Funder Guidelines

What are the concrete requirements of publishers in terms of long-term management and accessibility of research data?

Editorial boards and publishers increasingly demand open access to scientific data when publishing an academic paper. Many of these journals, especially open access journals, often encourage/demand making data available wherever possible. To this end, some international journals have established their own research data policy.

Information on copyright and archiving policies of scientific journals and publishers is available using the University of Nottingham's search engine SHERPA / RoMEO.

↷ see also our article on Funder Guidelines

What do I have to consider at the end of the project?

With the help of a Data Management Plan (DMP) or a Data Curation Profile, continuously used from the beginning of the research project, the research funder requirements should be easy to fulfil at the end of the project. A DMP sometimes facilitates the documentation of reporting obligations. If, on the other hand, no DMP exists, the individual questions that make up the structure of a DMP can help to identify ambiguities or gaps more easily and to remedy them.

Who can help me with legal issues concerning research data management?

It is best to contact the research data office at your university, if available. They will be able to provide support, or at least, if they cannot offer legal advice due to lack of legal expertise, they will refer you to other offices, such as your institution’s Legal office or its Data Protection Officer.

↷ see also our article on Legal Issues

Who owns the research data?

The collection of research data usually requires resources such as labour, time and money. On the one hand, the archiving of research data ensures the traceability of research results. On the other hand, research data are an important source beyond the project duration and are invaluable for later re-use, especially if the data are not reproducible. Many research institutions and funding institutions regard the archiving of research data as part of good scientific practice and sometimes support related efforts financially.

The question of the "ownership" of research data cannot be answered in a general way, but should be examined on a case-by-case basis. The decisive factors are not only the content and the method of collection of the data, but also the structure of the project and the type of data storage. Ownership rights to data and databases arise primarily from copyright law. However, prohibitions on the use of data may result from data protection law, but also from agreements to protect business secrets. It is advisable to clarify legal issues at the beginning of a project and to obtain the necessary consent. Where appropriate, it may be useful to settle this contractually in a cooperation agreement.

↷ see also our article on Legal Issues

When should I rather not publish my research data?

Research data should be published with caution, especially with regard to third party copyrights and data protection:

- Copyright: If research data contain copyrighted content or essential parts of a database to which third parties hold the copyright, publication is only permitted if the consent of these rights holders is available or if a legal exception applies (e.g. § 60d UrhG when archiving research data from text and data mining projects).

- Data protection: If research data contain information that enables the identification of living people, the consent of those people must be obtained for processing or a legal exception must apply. Before publication, the data should be anonymised as far as possible. If personal data are to be used in new research projects, it has to be clear whether the re-use is covered by the original informed consent.

- Research data ought by no means to be published either if one intends to exploit the research results commercially, e.g. via patents, licensing or spin-offs. Moreover, if industrial partners or funders (e.g., in the case of contract research) impose restrictions, you should pay close attention to comply with the stipulations.

↷ see also our article on Legal Issues and Publishing Data

Where can I find published research data for my subject?

A number of portals offer subject-specific and/or metadata-specific search in various data repositories. Some portals are country-specific; others such as or WorldWideScience list all international data repositories.