KNAW: Better data storage and sharing for research

Knowledge institutions, research funders, and governments must place the desires and needs of scientists at the heart of improving data storage and availability for research. Close cooperation between these parties and researchers in the workplace is essential. Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) in haar services “data storage and availability for research – from intent to implementation”.

Across the entire scientific spectrum, development is underway to make research data more easily available for reuse according to FAIR principles: Findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. New KNAW Advisory Report Storage and availability of searchable data It is based on the needs, desires, and practices of the researchers who work with the data. Researchers attach great importance to data storage and availability to colleagues, advice notes, but they often encounter difficulties in implementation. There are specific challenges with data ownership and availability of national data storage infrastructures. There are also common challenges, such as educating scientists in the field, creating appropriate metadata and data access methods, better support for scientists working with data, and creating a culture that reflects the importance of storage and access so that the data is recognized. Scientists desperately need more guidance at the national level to better communicate data.

The report calls on knowledge institutions to investigate how they can best support researchers in their scientific fields in their handling of data. This includes removing legal and ethical obstacles, facilitating training programs and creating ICT-like services that allow scientists to easily and securely store, share and publish data during every stage of their research project.

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It should also become more apparent to the researchers who are paying for the costs of storing and sharing data for research: ministries, research funders, knowledge institutions, or a combination of these. Data has intrinsic value. So doing nothing is not an option: losing data also involves heavy costs.

The National Council for Women also requests the Ministers of Education, Culture and Science; Economic affairs, climate, public health, welfare and sports to conclude equivalent agreements to share data between academic institutions on the one hand and Dutch companies and governmental organizations on the other hand. This stimulates a level playing field for researchers working with the data.

But researchers also bear their own responsibility. Before starting their research project, they must explain to their department the support and direction they need to store and access data appropriately. The advisory report contains a checklist for this.

Through this advisory report, the Academy wants to contribute to a better coordination between the desires and needs of scholars on the one hand and the plans and aspirations of knowledge institutions on the other hand to make the data FAIR. In the coming months, the Academy will organize a number of meetings to further develop recommendations with stakeholders.

Megan Vasquez

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