Because good research needs good data

Policies on research data in UK institutions - do you have one to share?

Kevin Ashley | 24 May 2011

The DCC has recently set up a mechanism to capture and reference examples of institutional research data management policies. We're doing this because we think it's useful to track their existence and because many people have told us that they would find it easier to create policies for their own institution if they could see some working examples. As a national coordination body, it's definitely our role to collate these.

Despite the fact that some politicians seem to be able to generate them at will, real policies aren't quick or easy to generate. By 'real policies' I mean ones that you plan to implement, that will be kept for an extended period of time, and that will actually have a tangible effect. That excludes:

  • policies which promise that the sun will continue to rise in the east (they don't change anything)
  • policies made in haste as a reaction to events (will probably be quickly forgotten)
  • policies announced by minor parties such as the UK's Monster Raving Looneys (which they know they'll never have to implement)

By these criteria, the University of Edinburgh's recently-approved research data management policy counts as a real policy. It has been in development for over a year and then took some months to take through the various decision-making bodies required to make it official university policy. Having been adopted at this level, it is unlikely to be discarded quickly. It's certainly the intention of those involved that it will have tangible effects, although at present it is clearly too early to tell. A fuller description of its development will be appearing in the next issue of IJDC, scheduled for June. If your institution has developed and made available a comparable policy, or adapted existing policies to address research data management, let us know and we'll add yours to our list.