Because good research needs good data

New H2020 DMP guidelines

Sarah Jones | 12 August 2016

The European Commission has released new Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020. There are a few key changes and a new template for DMPs which has been added to DMPonline.

The scope of the Open Research Data pilot has been growing. In the initial 2014-15 work programme, 7 areas were selected to take part. This grew in the 2015-16 work programe, and from 2017 the pilot will be extended to cover all the thematic areas of Horizon 2020, making Open Research Data the default.

What does this mean for projects?

Well, one important clarification is that it doesn't mean that all data need to be made openly available. Each proposal [1] will need to consider taking part, but it remains a flexible pilot which projects can opt-out of at any stage. Moreover, it is for projects to define which data this applies to for their specific context. A project could take part in the pilot and choose to only make a subset of the data available, or they could plan to make certain data available initially but change the decision on this mid-project, for example if they discover there's a commerical application and plan to file for a patent. The pilot is incredibly flexible so that projects can decide which data to make openly available and when. The key principle to bear in mind is to be "as open as possible, as closed as necessary." If you plan to keep some datasets closed, you need to justify these decisions in your Data Management Plan.

So what is new in terms of DMPs?

The revised guidelines place an emphasis on projects producing FAIR data, that is data which are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable. The new template has a section on FAIR data to address these issues. For projects it means paying more attention to metadata, documentation and the use of standards, to ensure that others can find, understand and reuse the data.

Another critical change is that a single DMP is to be produced per project, rather than one per dataset as previously. The DMP remains a deliverable to be updated during the project. An initial DMP needs to be submitted by month 6 and subsequent versions should be produced whenever significant changes occur. Updates should be available for the periodic evaluation/assessment, or if no such monitoring is planned within the grant agreement, in time for the final review at the latest.

It is not required to provide detailed answers to all the questions in the first version at month 6. The DMP is intended to be a living document in which finer grained information is made available as the implementation progresses. As such, the DCC has left the questions grouped in the 'Initial DMP' in DMPonline and asks each question individually for the more detailed and final versions. We welcome your feedback on this approach and are happy to make adjustments to the way we've implemented the template. Please also note that use of the template is optional. If you prefer to address other questions or use a different format altogether, you can do so, though it is recommended that you take care to address the main concerns of the European Commission.

The other useful clarification is in terms of costs. Costs related to open access to research data are eligible, and can be claimed for reimbursement during the duration of the project under the conditions defined in the grant agreement. Since the DMP is only delivered at month 6, it makes sense to address data management issues under the impact criterion at application stage and include associated costs, particularly for those projects with a siginificant data element.

Further information is included in the Guidelines and in the helpful FAQ released by the Open Access team:

[1] Although the ORD pilot is being extended to all areas thematic areas of Horizon 2020 from 2017, not all instruments are suitable. The following instruments will be excluded: a) co-fund, b) prizes, c) ERC proof of concept instruments, d) those ERANets that do not produce data, and e) the SME instrument phase 1. For 2-stage calls, information on ORD sharing will be requested only at stage 2.

Image credit: 'OPEN' by Tom Magliery CC-BY-NC-SA