Open Research Data Policy

Reference Number Version Letter  Executive Sponsor  Officer Responsible for Policy/Procedures  Consultation Process  Date of Approval and Committee and/or Executive Officer  Effective Data 
Version 1.4   Paul Maropoulos  Heather Whitehouse  Research Data Management Steering Group (sub group of Research Committee)  Research Committee December 2016 
Version 2   PVC (R and E)  Director Information Resources and Research Services, Library Services 

Research Integrity Committee 

Research Committee 30 October 2019  December 2019 

Aston University Open Research Data Policy

1. INTRODUCTION AND SCOPE OF THE POLICY

The maintenance of accurate and retrievable data arising from research projects is an essential component of good practice in the conduct of research and a key component of research integrity. Opening up research data for scrutiny, to validate and replicate research or for re-use in further, possibly unrelated, research is a key component of Open Research. The principles of Open Research Data are set out in the Concordat on Open Research Data of which UKRI (HEFCE and RCUK at the time), UUK and Wellcome Trust are all signatories. The principle that research data, arising from publicly funded research should be treated as a public good, is reflected in the policies and conditions of major public research funders. Open Research Data can only be delivered when the planning and management of research data takes account of that eventual outcome in earlier stages of the research lifecycle.

1.1. Purpose of the Policy

This policy covers Aston’s approach to Open Research Data, as an output of the research process.

1.2. What is covered by the Policy

This policy covers the processes, arrangements and limitations for making research data open either for re-use or in support of research publications to enable the validation of that research. Although essential to delivering Open Research Data, it does not cover the wider lifecycle of research data management. 

For the purposes of this policy, Research Data are defined as factual records, which may take the form of numbers, symbols, text, images or sounds, used as primary sources for research, and that are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings. Data may comprise primary raw data or secondary analysed data. Application of this policy is essential where there is a funder requirement for Open Research Data and its application may be extended to research data from non-funded research where there are no legal, commercial sensitivity or ethical barriers.

Who is Covered by the Policy

This policy applies to all researchers and research students at Aston University with regards to the management of data arising from their research, and to the roles of the various individuals or services that will support the management of research data during its lifecycle.

2. POLICY STATEMENT

2.1. What Research Data should or should not be made Open

2.1.1. 
Research data arising from research where the funder has a requirement for Open Research Data should be made Open in line with that funder’s requirements and with this policy.
2.1.2. Where research data underpins a research publication, then sufficient data to enable validation or replication of that research should be made Open subject to legal, commercial sensitivity and ethical constraints.
2.1.3. Research datasets with the potential for reuse in future research should be made Open subject to any legal, commercial sensitivity or ethical constraints.
2.1.4. Research data should NOT be made Open if:

   i.         it relates to research which is likely to be commercialised (i.e. a patent), 
   ii.        it contains confidential or personal data,
   iii.       doing so would be an infringement of a legal agreement (e.g. with a funder or collaborator),
   iv.        or where there is a need to manage a security risk.

2.2. Where and how should Research Data be made Open

1.1.1. Data in datasets should be fully anonymised before being made Open. Note that fully anonymised data must no longer have any means of linking it back to the individual and is no longer classified as personal data;
1.1.2. Datasets should be identifiable (ie the sets, not any personal data), retrievable, and available when needed;
1.1.3. Datasets should be assigned a persistent DOI which has been generated for that dataset;
1.1.4. Publications for which there is an underpinning dataset should have a Data Access Statement added prior to article submission. This should include the persistent Digital Object Identifier (DOI) generated for the relevant dataset. Note that this is an essential requirement of some funders;
1.1.5. Data should be stored in a secure data repository suited to the data concerned; Aston Data Explorer is open to all datasets;
1.1.6. Any data which is retained outside Aston, for example in an international data service or domain repository, should be registered with the University by including the associated metadata and a link in Aston Data Explorer;
1.1.7. Sufficient metadata to describe the data and facilitate discovery should be provided in Aston Data Explorer (based on E-prints research data repository);
1.1.8. Links between publications records and related datasets records should be established.

2.3. Marking Research Data Open with restrictions or an embargo
Where the type of data makes it necessary to limit or control access to a dataset a repository (such as Aston Data Explorer) should be selected which offers one of two options: 

  • Embargoed, for when research data can be Open after an initial embargo period has expired.
  • Restricted, for data types which have ethical, commercial, copyright or IP issues where a decision has been made that the metadata for the dataset can be made public but access to the dataset only provided to users who make a request on the repository and provide sufficient justification.

2.4. Retention of Open Research Data

Datasets that have been made Open should be retained for a period which follows best practice in the discipline or in line with funder requirements.  If none exists, data will be retained by default for a period of 10 years after which a review will take place to determine whether the data should be retained for a further period.

3. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

3.1. The University is responsible for:
3.1.1.
 Providing access to services and facilities for the storage, backup, deposit and retention of Open research data and records that allow researchers to meet their requirements under this policy and those of the funders;
3.1.2. Facilitating access to training, support and advice on Open research data;
3.1.3. Providing the necessary resources to those central services responsible for the provision of these services, facilities and training.

3.2. Research Group Heads or Associate Deans for Research are reponsible for:
3.2.1. Ensuring that researchers in their area are aware of this policy and their responsibilities in relation to it;
3.2.2. Defining protocols or producing guidelines to assist researchers in their area to meet the requirements of this policy.

3.3. Principal Investigators are responsible for:
3.3.1. Ensuring, at the outset of a research project, a Data Management Plan is created which documents clear procedures for the collection, storage, use, re-use, access and retention or destruction of the research data;
3.3.2. Ensuring that throughout the project, storing, sharing and manipulation of data is in accordance with legal and ethical requirements and recommended practices to ensure data is kept secure, backed-up and organised effectively;
3.3.3. Documenting and agreeing, where appropriate, with their local review board or ethics committee or library services and in line with university’s policies where the data is to be stored so it is accessible after the completion of the research or in the event of their departure or retirement from the University;
3.3.4. Ensuring that any requirements in relation to research data and records management placed on their research by funding bodies or regulatory agencies or under the terms of a research contract with the University are also met;

4. SOURCES OF GUIDANCE
Advice on how to implement the requirements set out in this policy are available in the Research Data Management Libguide or by emailing researchdata@aston.ac.uk

5. DEFINITONS

Research Data: are defined as factual records, which may take the form of numbers, symbols, text, images or sounds, used as primary sources for research, and that are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings.  Data may comprise primary raw data or secondary analysed data.
Open Research: Open Research is the practice of researching in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute throughout the research process. Open Research is not limited to STEM subjects; it encompasses all fields and stages of research with the goal of making the results Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR). 
Open Research Data: Making your research data freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world and downloadable.
Metadata: Information held as a description of stored data.
DOI: Digital Object Identifier, a persistent identifier used to identify objects uniquely and standardised by the International Standards Organisation

6. RELATED REGULATIONS, STATUTES AND POLICIES
Concordat on Open Research Data
Intellectual Property (IP)
Research Integrity
Ethics
Research Integrity Assurance Procedures
Open Access Policy and Code of practice
Data Protection Policies and Procedures
Records Management Policies and Procedures
Aston Data Explorer Governance Policy