Because good research needs good data

STFC releases a scientific data policy

Sarah Jones | 19 September 2011

The STFC has released a scientific data policy, meaning that every member of RCUK has now issued guidelines on data management and sharing.

The STFC policy builds on the RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy released in April 2011. It applies to all scientific data produced as a result of STFC funding, including grants, access to beam time at STFC supported facilities, and subscriptions to other organisations.

Key stipulations (by theme) include:

Data management plans

  • Data management plans should exist for all data within the scope of the policy. They should be submitted in grant applications and each STFC operated facility should have an ongoing data management plan.
  • Plans should specify which data are to be deposited in a repository, where and for how long, with appropriate justification.
  • Where data are not to be managed through an established repository, the data management plan will need to be more extensive and to provide reassurance on the likely stability and longevity of any repository proposed.
  • STFC recommends that data management plans be formulated following the guidance provided by the Digital Curation Centre

Data sharing

  • Data resulting from publicly funded research should be made publicly available after a limited period, unless there are specific reasons (e.g. legislation, ethical, privacy, security) why this should not happen.
  • The length of any proprietary period should be specified in the data management plan and justified.
  • ‘Published’ data should generally be made available within six months of the date of the relevant publication.


  • STFC would normally expect data to be managed through an institutional repository, e.g. as operated by a research organisation, a university, a laboratory or an independently managed subject specific database.
  • STFC would expect the original data (i.e. from which other related data can in principle be derived) to be retained for the longest possible period, with ten years after the end of the project being a reasonable minimum.
  • For data that by their nature cannot be re-measured (e.g. earth observations), effort should be made to retain them ‘in perpetuity’.

These changes have been reflected in the DCC policy resources and the data management requirements will be incoporated into DMPonline.

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