Intensive Work Regarding Research Data Policies

Published: 2020-06-13

The efforts to create research data policies in Swedish higher learning institutions have intensified over the last year, according to data from an annual survey made by SUHF. When this theme was addressed in the latest digital SND network meeting on 11 June, which attracted almost 100 participants, there was a keen interest in it.

Chart showing statistics on policy work concerning research data
The SUHF survey shows that the work with research data policies has intensified.
(Translation of an original image by Sabina Anderberg.)​

This network meeting had been initiated by the universities in Stockholm and Umeå and was chaired by Sabina Anderberg from Stockholm University and Thomas Kieselbach from Umeå University. According to the SUHF survey, as many as 21 HEIs are currently in the process of creating research data policies, and four HEIs have already adopted research data policies.

In the Thursday webinar, representatives from nine HEIs introduced their work and provided some insight into what you may want to consider during the policy-making process. A number ot their experiences were shared by many of the HEIs, and several of the policies that have been adopted or are under production are inspired by the recommendations for research data management that were adopted by SUHF last December. These recommendations state that steering documents should contain the HEI’s position on how to manage and make research data accessible, and that the documents should also describe how the responsibilities and support in these matters are organised in the HEIs.

Important to establish policies firmly

Several of the participants in the webinar stressed the importance of having a policy that is established on a management level as well as among researchers. This is necessary if a policy is to gain legitimacy and to make sure that it focuses on the needs and solutions to questions that are central to researchers.

—It's important to establish it firmly. There is some interest and knowledge about these questions, but a large variation in what researchers know about them. The reactions to the suggestion for a research data policy tend to be mixed; some are curious, others question it. We have many challenges ahead of us, especially in how to store research data and how specific the policy should be, said Olivia Ekman and Anders Danielsson from Mid Sweden University.

Like several other participants, Olivia and Anders emphasised that the work with making research data more accessible is a discussion for the entire academic community, and not just for the libraries, where most of the local support for research data management is now being set up.

—We’re trying to communicate to researchers that the libraries are just intermediaries. This is a very big question both nationally and internationally, and not something we just made up, so to say.

Need for an integrated approach

Sabina Anderberg addressed that the work with research data has to be made with an integrated approach:

—We need to integrate research data management through the entire chain of the research process. It is a matter of creating a palette of services that follow the researcher’s path. And it is important to tie the various tools together, so that they can be used correctly throughout a research project. I’d like to see much more collaboration in the big Open Access processes for publications and research data.

The work on research data policies will be followed up in various ways within the SND network. We intend to revisit this topic with continued discussions and examples from more HEIs.

Here you can see all of the presentations from the webinar (in Swedish).