As a social action and research organisation ROTA places high value on the research carried out under its aegis, whether this is produced alone or in collaboration with others.
ROTA recognises that the different types of output resulting from this research are key assets and should be managed in a way that brings most benefit for the individual researcher and for ROTA. Research data in its various forms is one such output.
There are a number of obligations on both individual researchers and ROTA regarding research data, for example legal requirements such as the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts, the need for confidentiality for ethical or commercial reasons, and the view increasingly adopted by funders that the outputs of publicly-funded research should be openly accessible wherever possible.
There is also a need for research data to be accessible for an appropriate period of time in a form that enables validation of research findings.
It is therefore necessary that ROTA appropriately manages the data produced through its research activities.
The purpose of this Policy is to ensure that data produced or otherwise used through ROTA’s research activities is registered, stored, made accessible for use and reuse as appropriate, managed over time and/or disposed of, according to legal, ethical, funder requirements and good practice.
This policy, and services developed in association with it, will support ROTA and its researchers who are responsible for creating and using data, in fulfilling their various accountabilities and obligations regarding this data and in gaining best value from it.
Definition of Research Data
There is no single definition of what constitutes research data; specific definitions apply within individual disciplines. However:
- A 2008 HEFCE-funded report defines research data as “the evidence base on which academic researchers build their analytic or other work”
- The Australian National Data Service describes research data as “the data, records, files or other evidence, irrespective of their content or form (e.g. in print, digital, physical or other forms), that comprise a research project’s observations, findings or outcomes, including primary materials and analysed data”
These indicate that ‘research data’ encompasses a wide range of types of content and format and is generated in all disciplines. In addition, the 2011 RCUK statement “Common Principles on Data Policy” was supported by all Research Councils.
This Policy therefore applies across all areas of ROTA’s research.
- ROTA is committed to ensuring that the research conducted by its staff, volunteers and associates maintains the highest possible standards of integrity.
- ROTA’s research data will be managed in accordance with the ROTA’s policies, guidelines and standards, and funder, legislative and ethical requirements.
- Exclusive rights to host, reuse or publish research data should not be given to other bodies without retaining the rights to make the data openly available for re-use, unless this is a condition of funding.
- Those responsible for research staff, volunteers, and associates should ensure that researchers in their areas are aware of the ROTA’s policy regarding research data and its associated guidelines and procedures.
- All researchers are expected to familiarise themselves with and act in accordance with this and other ROTA policies relating to research practice.
- When planning research activity where research data may be created or reused, researchers must prepare and maintain data management plans that as a minimum meet ROTA standards, or more rigorous standards as appropriate where required by external bodies.
- All ROTA research data must be registered with an appropriate academic or other institution.
- Data must be retained intact in an appropriate format and storage facility, normally for a period of at least five years from the date of any publication which is based upon it. Where specific regulations with regard to data retention apply, e.g., from funders, these regulations should prevail, particularly where the required retention period is longer than the ROTA requires.
- Data deemed to be of interest to future research, including data that substantiate research findings, will normally be offered for deposit in an appropriate external data service.
- Data should be made available for access and re-use under the appropriate conditions. Where data is provided that is not already publicly available, ROTA will ensure it is anonymised if used in any reports that are made publicly available in any way.
- Where research data is not retained it should be disposed of according to ROTA guidelines.
- ROTA will provide means and services enabling registration, deposit, storage, retention of and access to research data.
- ROTA will provide advice, training and support regarding research data management.
Adoption and Implementation
In adopting this Policy ROTA intends that an evolutionary approach will be taken to implementing it over a number of years.