Guidelines and Policies
This section gives an overview about guidelines and policies regarding research data management.
Most international funding organisations (research councils, trusts and funds) have established research data management guidelines which specify how to handle and manage research data. The general expectation is that research data derived from publicly funded projects are a public good and therefore should be made available to the public with as few limitations as possible.
Many German funding institutions (e.g. DFG, Volkswagenstiftung and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research) require information on how research data will be used and/or re-used after the end of a project. Smaller German funding organisations generally follow the guidelines of European programmes and/or the DFG. With regard to the publication of research data, the DFG stipulates the following in their 2015 Guidelines on Handling Research Data: "Research data should be made available as soon as possible. Data should be made accessible at a stage of processing that allows it to be usefully reused by third parties (raw data or structured data). To make sure this is the case, it must be ensured that access to the data is still guaranteed when, through publication, the rights of use relating to research data are transferred to a third party, usually a publishing house." The guidelines also give information on how to include additional RDM costs as well as the costs of making data available for re-use in a DFG proposal. More information on funding for RDM-related costs can also be found in this BMBF announcement.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Austrian Research Fund (FWF) expects funded projects to provide a DMP and open access to all research data that were collected and/or analysed using FWF funds: "Open access is mandatory for research data on which the research publications of the project are based. If […] open access to these data is not or only partially possible, this must be explained in the Data Management Plan.“
The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) emphasises the value of Open Science by naming a DMP as a suitable tool for learning about research data management in its recent calls. IKT der Zukunft calls by FFG have been requiring an obligatory DMP since November 2020, the first version of which has to be handed in with the proposal.
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) considers open access to research data as an essential contribution to the efficiency, transparency and reproducibility of scientific research. From the viewpoint of the SNF, research data should not just be thoroughly documented and archived, but also be made accessible as far as possible (see SNF Policy on Open Research Data)
In this context, the SNF has been requiring that a DMP be handed in with the project proposal for most of their funding programmes since October 2017. Unless legal (specifically copyright or data protection-related) reasons or other ethical concerns make it unfeasible to do so, data that underly research results or have been generated throughout the research process are to be made publicly available no later than the end of the research project.
European Commission funding programmes - such as Horizon Europe - require researchers to provide information in the form of a data management plan. Other funding criteria include the handling of the data according to the FAIR Principles which means that the data have to be findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable.
Requirements can vary depending on each programme and call. Support is available at your local research support and RDM departments. The following information is only a general overview:
Horizon Europe is the 9th EU framework programme and the biggest single funding programme for research and innovation worldwide. It will last 7 years, beginning in 2021 and is the successor programme to EU Horizon 2020. Detailed information is not available yet, however preliminary information and official announcements can be found on the EU Commission's funding and tender portal .
EU funding programme running from 2014 to 2020.
It makes sense to create and use a data management plan even if it is not required since it will help make a number of RDM-related aspects clearer. This does not mean that research data always have to be published. There are a number of reasons that might make a publication unfeasible, which then have to be explained in the DMP. This may be the case if there are plans for applying a patent, if the research is commissioned by a third party or if it is applied research that is meant to be commercialised. Data protection issues can be another concern.
Therefore, it is best to consider the following aspects from the beginning:
By systematically recording the answers to these questions in a DMP, uncertainties and potential issues can be more easily identified and addressed early on.