In April 2011 the EPSRC published their Policy Framework on Research Data setting out their expectations concerning the management and provision of access to EPSRC funded research data.
What do the expectations mean for researchers?
The following expectations have implications for the ways in which researchers manage and look after their research data:
- As of May 1st 2015 all published research papers that acknowledge funding from the EPSRC must include a short statement describing how and on what terms supporting data may be accessed.
- Data used to support published research "should be made freely and openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner". They acknowledge that there may be "legal, ethical and commercial constraints on the release of research data" and compelling reasons to restrict access to the data (e.g. because the data contains personally or commercially sensitive information) but expect any such restrictions to be noted in the data access statement.
- EPSRC funded data should be securely preserved for a minimum of 10 years.
- "Appropriately structured metadata" should be published and made freely available online (normally within 12 months of the data being generated).
- Where access to the data is restricted, the published metadata should also give the reason and summarise the conditions which must be satisfied for access to be granted.
- Non-digital data should be stored in a manner that allows it to be shared in the event of a valid request for access to the data being received.
How can researchers meet the EPSRC expectations?
1. Include a data access statement in your published papers
- If your data will be supporting published research findings you should include a data access statement in your published research paper(s).
- If you have deposited your data in repository or data centre your statement should include a persistent identifier (such as a DOI).
- If you are not able to deposit your data in a repository or data centre or the King’s Open Research Data System (KORDS) and/or cannot provide a link to a DOI, contact the Research Data Management team at firstname.lastname@example.org, who can help you to create a metadata record for your data, in KORDS, with a DOI.
- The EPSRC do not consider a simple instruction to "contact the author" to be sufficient.
- If the journal offers no specific guidance then it is up to the author where the data access statement is placed. Recommended options include either in the acknowledgements section along with funder details, or just after the abstract. Before the reference section is another option.
WHAT IS A DATA ACCESS STATEMENT?
A data access statement is a short statement added to your published paper giving details of how the data can be accessed and any terms and conditions which might restrict or prevent access to your data. If access is restricted or withheld you must give clear reasons why this is the case.
"The data supporting this research are openly available from the King’s Open Research Data System (KORDS) at [insert DOI]"
More examples of data access statements can be found on our Share web page (on the Citation tab), and on the open research resources page in the UKRI good research resources hub (under 'External guidance').
2. Deposit your data in a repository or data centre
If you have deposited your data in an external repository contact the research data management team (email@example.com) and let us know where your data is being held. We will help you to create a record of your dataset in our data catalogue. Please include a URL or DOI where one exists.
For guidance on choosing a repository or data centre go to our web pages for preserving your data. These pages also include information about depositing you data in the King’s Open Research Data System (KORDS).
3. Publish a metadata record of your data
- If you have deposited your data in an external repository the landing page for your dataset will most likely include sufficient metadata to enable discovery and access. You can include a link to the landing page in your data access statement (see above).
- If you deposit a dataset at King's we will publish a metadata record of your dataset and issue it with a DOI.
- There are a growing number of data journals that publish data papers describing datasets.
- Project or departmental web sites can also be used to publish metadata about your data.
The EPSRC's expectation is that the metadata must be sufficient to allow others to understand what research data exists, why, when and how it was generated, and how to access it.
Note - the EPSRC expect a metadata record of the data to be made available online even if the data is not used to support a publication.
See our web page on documentation and metadata for further guidance.
4. If access to your data is restricted or withheld give reasons why in your data access statement
- Although the EPSRC are committed to the principle that publicly funded research data should be made "freely and openly available with as few restrictions as possible" they also acknowledge that there may be legitimate legal, ethical, or commercial reasons why access to research data may be restricted.
- However, if your data cannot be shared you will need to give reasons why in your data access statement and published metadata.
5. Include information on how to access non-digital data in your published metadata
- Where possible non-digital data should be converted and stored in a digital format in a "timely manner".
- The EPSRC do not expect all research data to be digitized but neither do they expect access to data to be rejected on the basis that it is physically awkward to share.
6. Create a data management plan
- A data management plan (DMP) is a formal document that outlines how your data will be looked after both during the lifetime of your research project and beyond.
- Although the EPSRC do not require researchers to submit a DMP with their application, they do expect one to be in place - and planning your data management needs in advance will help you meet the EPSRC's expectations for data access and preservation.
- It is also good research practice. Having a DMP saves time and resources, makes it easier for you to find and understand your data when you need to use it, and helps you identify in advance any extra costs and resources needed for carrying out data management activities.
- For help with writing a DMP visit our web page for creating a data management plan.
If you have any questions or require further assistance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.