A helping hand for authors sharing their data

As EPSRC’s research data management survey of pro vice-chancellors draws to a close, researchers discover that they will be the focus of the next round of data policy compliance testing. Our checklist for authors is on hand to help.

EPSRC’s Policy Framework on Research Data is based on the principle that publicly-funded research data should be made as widely and freely available as possible. In particular, it expects that dataset descriptions will be published within 12 months of data being created, and that research papers will include a ‘data access statement’ telling readers where and how to get hold of supporting data.

From September to November 2015, EPSRC will test a random sample of recently published papers to establish how accessible the underpinning data is. Testers will follow the access statement to consider the adequacy of the data and information the author has provided. If necessary, they will follow-up with authors to emphasise the importance of complying with the policy.

That’s probably not a call or email anyone would particularly like to receive. 

Our checklist for authors is a guide for researchers on what is expected of them. The 6 steps will help to ensure you comply with funder and institutional policies, and also understand the implications for the post-2014 REF.

It would be great if there were fewer steps, less data management and reporting work to do. But the supporting infrastructure, such as university data repositories, are evolving slowly, and for now researchers will have to enter some information several times to comply with all the policies – and get the all the benefits of sharing data and information. In future, the ORCID researcher identification system may help to reduce the duplication of effort. Registered researchers will be uniquely identified, making it possible for different catalogues, repositories and reporting systems to recognise the same author and their publications between systems.

After the autumn round of tests, data policy compliance testing will be incorporated into routine annual checks by the Cross Council Audit Assurance Support Group (AASG). This isn’t going away. We hope the checklist for authors will help to avoid that awkward ‘phone call from the EPSRC compliance testers.

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