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Research data policy going back to basics in Barcelona

This blog was written by Iain Hrynaszkiewicz, Head of Data Publishing.

This week the Springer Nature research data team are exploring how our research data policy initiative can help facilitate wider adoption of clear, consistent policies for publishing research data.

We are attending the Research Data Alliance (RDA) 9th Plenary meeting in Barcelona where, amongst other things, we are chairing the inaugural Interest Group meeting on standardisation of policy for publishing research data.

At a hastily organised unofficial meeting at the RDA 8th Plenary it became clear there is a lot of interest in addressing the problems researchers face in understanding and complying with data policies. We are now – officially – working via the RDA to do this.

Given its global standing and community driven approach, RDA is an excellent platform to involve other stakeholders – publishers, funding bodies, infrastructure providers, researchers and institutions – in developing harmonised data policies.

We have formed an Interest Group on data policy standardisation and implementation, co-chaired by representatives from Wiley, the Australian National Data Service, and Jisc in the UK. It’s encouraging to see that a diverse group, including other publishers, are already involved. Our goal is to evolve into an RDA Working Group (a group with agreed timelines and deliverables) in the coming months.

We recognise the Springer Nature data policy framework may well not be the final product of this RDA group but, since it was released under an open access licence for adoption and reuse, it provides some basis for group discussion. And something of a head start on the work ahead. We are looking forward to debating and identifying common features of data policy – such as data citation, data availability statements and support for trusted repositories – with other interested parties via the RDA.

The agenda of the inaugural official meeting on Thursday 6th April are here. Our main objective for the group is to help define a common framework for research data policy allowing for different levels of commitment and disciplinary differences that could be agreed by multiple stakeholders. This will begin by gathering requirements for data policy – of publishers, researchers, repositories and funders – during the interactive part of the session. Those who can’t attend in person should join the group to participate in online discussion and keep informed of the community conference calls that will follow over the summer and beyond.

Meanwhile nearly 1,000 (955) Springer Nature journals – around 40% of our portfolio – have implemented a standardised research data policy, and a further 100 have begun the process of adopting a policy. Journals adopting a data policy for the first time are typically choosing policy types 1 and 2, which encourage sharing and evidence of sharing. We are also supporting editors who are adopting the type 3 policy, which requires all authors to provide data availability statements in manuscripts, with enhanced journal editorial office support to carry out additional manuscript checks.

More information on the history and methodology of the Springer Nature policy project was presented – and this week made available as a preprint – at the International Digital Curation Conference in February.


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