SND's network meeting in Uppsala on 7–8 November gathered over 110 participants from all over the country. Held over two intense days, discussions revolved around topics such as how to manage research data with personal information, adherence to the FAIR principles in archiving, and how the network can achieve new collaborative gains through the emerging national research data portal, researchdata.se.
Several major updates since the last meeting
The networking meeting commenced with an update on SND's ongoing activities. This included the introduction of SND's new director, Eva Stensköld, who will assume office on February 1. Additionally, Deputy Director Elisabeth Strandhagen and Head of IT Johan Fihn Marberg provided an overview of the work towards the next funding period, SND’s integration with Sweden’s national data portal, Sveriges dataportal, and the finalization of the so-called ”Orienteringskartan”, a tool to track progress towards an open science system in Sweden.
Researchdata.se creates collaborative gains
During the networking meeting, the potential of the upcoming research data portal, researchdata.se, planned for launch in early 2025, was highlighted. Johan Rung, director of SciLifeLab Data Centre within the national research infrastructure SciLifeLab, which also includes the national bioinformatics infrastructure NBIS, emphasized the collaborative gains the portal might offer to the network in terms of sharing, discovering, and reusing research data.
“The transition towards an open science system is being propelled by the integration of research, research infrastructures, and platforms that enable sharing of data and other research results. The new national platform, researchdata.se, is a crucial part of this development and will enable subject-specific data-sharing platforms to collaborate on standards and technologies, to reach a broader user base,” said Johan Rung.
Checklist for sharing data with personal information
There is a significant need for practical support and legal guidance in handling research data containing personal information or other sensitive information. During the network meeting, SND's legal network presented a checklist for sharing data with personal information. The checklist can serve as a step-by-step guide for data support functions at Swedish universities when determining whether data in SND’s research data catalogue can be disclosed. Besides providing practical guidance, the checklist is also a step to creating clearer consensus among Swedish higher education institutions regarding the management of individual data.
“The checklist is the result of nearly a year's work involving legal officers and individuals in various research support roles at eight different HEIs. The process of developing the checklist has in itself been very enlightening, and I hope the guidance will prove useful in practice,” said Maria Skoglund, legal officer at SND.
The checklist will be published on SND's website and on Zenodo in early 2024.
Practical handbook for individual data
In addition to the checklist, since spring 2023, SND has collaborated with Uppsala University to develop a practical handbook for individual data. This handbook is aimed at both researchers and data support functions and provides tangible tips and recommendations on how data containing personal information can be practically managed within research. The handbook consists of four main sections:
- Legal aspects focusing on research legislation in practice.
- Methods for protecting data, such as pseudonymization and anonymization.
- Tools for risk assessment and protective measures.
- Resources linking to other useful resources for managing data containing personal information.
“The handbook is based on experiences and practical issues we have encountered in our work with research data containing personal information at SND. The idea is for the handbook to be a resource where you can quickly find answers to common questions and understand how to proceed in different situations,” said Joel Carlsten Rosberg, research data advisor at SND.
A first version of the handbook will be launched on SND's website in early 2024.
Specialized session for archivists within the SND Network
During the networking meeting, a dedicated session was organized for archivists within the SND Network. The purpose was, among other things, to discuss compliance with the FAIR principles from a preservation perspective. The session discussed how data from various research projects can be better interconnected throughout their lifecycle and how to create better interoperability among Swedish HEIs concerning the preservation of research data. Data management plans were highlighted in the discussions as a particularly important tool to guide and support information management at Swedish HEIs.
“Archival matters are a natural and important part of all information management but need to be contextualized for each type of operation. Research has long been a challenging field to reach, and we believe that by referring to the FAIR principles and describing archiving as ‘FAIR over time’, we can create a shared understanding of the purposes and methods of archiving and better collaborate towards sustainable and accessible information in the form of research data,” said Sofia Särdquist, archivist at the Swedish National Archives.
All presentation materials from the networking meeting are available on SND's website (in Swedish only).