Sophiahemmet University Adopts a Policy on Research Data

Published: 2019-12-10

Sophiahemmet University

Sophiahemmet University is the second Swedish university to adopt a research data policy.
—We felt that it is important to have a policy and some form of guidance in this matter. In this last year, we’ve received many questions about the FAIR data principles and data management, especially from doctoral students, says Mårten Jansson, Collaboration Strategist at Sophiahemmet University.

Mårten Jansson, together with Head Librarian Eva Unemo Wahlfridsson, and Maria Kumlin, Professor and Chair of the University’s ethics committee, had an assignment from the university’s President to create a proposal for a research data policy (in Swedish only). Their work has been successful and the policy was recently processed in the university’s Research Committee, in preparation for a decision from the President. The purpose of the policy is to promote the accessibility of research results and research data, to make Open Science common practice, to guarantee that the FAIR data principles are eventually fulfilled, and to make sure that all of the university’s researchers are provided with support and resources for correct data management, storage, preservation, and accessibility.

The necessity of structured work
–The same rules apply to us, as a small university, as to everyone else. We have to work in a structured manner to preserve our data and make them meet the FAIR data principles. There are also many legal aspects to consider, so we need to keep developing the policy for the future. For instance, almost all of our researchers work with sensitive personal data, says Mårten Jansson.

Another factor that has made the matter of a research data policy urgent is that this autumn, the university has started their own doctoral programme and accepted their first nine PhD students. They also have 27 other doctoral students connected to other universities, but with supervisors employed by Sophiahemmet University. Research data management is now a specific part of the introductory course on the doctoral programme.

—It is important for us to be a part of the SND network, and to build on existing documents and guidelines in this field. We also want to be clear about what support the university can provide for our researchers, and what we expect from them in terms of data management, says Mårten Jansson.

Placing requirements on research projects
The research data policy doesn’t focus solely on what resources and support to provide for the researchers, but also on the requirements on research projects at the university. One of the requirements is that all research projects carried out at Sophiahemmet University must have a person who is responsible for the project data and for making sure that the research data policy is adhered to. All research projects need to have a documented data management plan. The individual researcher shall see to it that data are collected, stored, and preserved in a secure way, and the supervisor is responsible for following up and communicating the recommended practices for managing research data to students and doctoral students.

The plan is to update the policy annually, in keeping with the current needs, for example regarding FAIR and various ethical issues in research. Mårten Jansson emphasises that it may be a wise strategy to address a few things at a time, in order to get down to action.

—We don’t want to make the work too extensive and complicated; if you think that you have to do it all at one go, it’ll feel like too much. It’s important to show that you act and think about these issues. If you take on the work a bit at a time, it’s easier to get started; you just keep adding and updating it as you go, he says.