Insights from LEARN: Swedish Stakeholders Need to Clarify Expectations on Researchers to Share and Publish Data

Blogpost by Sabina Anderberg, Stockholm University and Sverker Holmgren, Uppsala University

Sverker Holmgren and Sabina Anderberg
Sverker Holmgren and Sabina Anderberg

Representatives of Stockholm University, Uppsala University (also representing NordForsk) and Swedish Research Council took part in the one day conference 6th LEARN end-of-Project Conference – Managing the Data Deluge: Roles and Responsibilities for Your Institution in London 5th of May 2017.

The conference provided a lot of updated and valuable input on research data for universities, and we wish we had seen more of the Nordic universities there.

What is LEARN?

The purpose of LEARN (Leaders Activating Research Networks) is to take the LERU Roadmap for Research Data produced by the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and to develop this in order to build a coordinated e-infrastructure across Europe and beyond.

LEARN has developed a model Research Data Management (RDM) policy which could be tailored by any university or research institution to meet their needs, a toolkit to support implementation and an Executive Briefing in five core languages to ensure wide outreach.

Funders sets the framework for research data

There is a strong and growing consensus among research funders over the need to ensure that data outputs from the research are managed and shared in ways that will deliver the greatest benefit to society. Over recent years, funders around the world have introduced policies requiring that their funded researchers make data available to others in a timely and responsible manner, and plan their approach for managing data as an integral part of planning their research.

When the funders define their framework the universities must follow. Most of the universities in the UK and many other countries in Europe have a research data policy in place and also guide their researchers to Data Management Plans.

Sweden need to speed up

In Sweden neither the universities nor the national funders have a research data policy (yet). But work is in progress and also Sweden is slowly moving towards a situation where research data is carefully managed and widely shared. We see that the need for framework and policies at the universities are much the same in several aspects regardless of country – the researchers work globally and so must we do when we build structures and strategies at our universities.

We don’t need to invent or create what is already out there. The LEARN toolkit gives excellent possibilities for all universities despite size and disciplines to implement both research data management services and policies. We hope that Sweden will speed up the work on data management and sharing and coordinate policy making on a national level.

Stakeholders need to take initiatives and clarify expectations

An example of a common stakeholder group in this context is the new national Open Science coordination group in the Swedish Association of Higher Education.  This group could initiate common activities and national working groups with relevant skill functions to promote and create general guidelines for the Swedish universities to follow in their work of creating policies.

The research data policy needs to clarify the university’s expectations for researchers to share and preserve their results and data, the restrictions and different levels in sharing, the support and guidance that can be offered by the university, legal and ethical responsibility, harmonise policies and practices wherever possible, as far as possible develop guidance tailored to specific research fields and data types in terms of current best practice for data management and sharing, and advocate and champion the ongoing transition to data sharing and open science approaches.

Creating a university strategy, both strong support from the leaders of the university and direct involvement of researchers is essential for arriving at solutions that both match the needs of the research activities and are sustainable.

Sabina Anderberg, Stockholm University
Sverker Holmgren, Uppsala University

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