EPSRC has the following clear expectations of organisations in receipt of EPSRC research funding (clarification and guidance on the interpretations of these expectations (PDF 135KB)):
- Research organisations will promote internal awareness of these principles and expectations and ensure that their researchers and research students have a general awareness of the regulatory environment and of the available exemptions which may be used, should the need arise, to justify the withholding of research data.
- Published research papers should include a short statement describing how and on what terms any supporting research data may be accessed.
- Each research organisation will have specific policies and associated processes to maintain effective internal awareness of their publicly-funded research data holdings and of requests by third parties to access such data; all of their researchers or research students funded by EPSRC will be required to comply with research organisation policies in this area or, in exceptional circumstances, to provide justification of why this is not possible.
- Publicly-funded research data that is not generated in digital format will be stored in a manner to facilitate it being shared in the event of a valid request for access to the data being received (this expectation could be satisfied by implementing a policy to convert and store such data in digital format in a timely manner).
- Research organisations will ensure that appropriately structured metadata describing the research data they hold is published (normally within 12 months of the data being generated) and made freely accessible on the internet; in each case the metadata must be sufficient to allow others to understand what research data exists, why, when and how it was generated, and how to access it. Where the research data referred to in the metadata is a digital object it is expected that the metadata will include use of a robust digital object identifier (For example as available through the DataCite organisation).
- Where access to the data is restricted the published metadata should also give the reason and summarise the conditions which must be satisfied for access to be granted. For example ‘commercially confidential’ data, in which a business organisation has a legitimate interest, might be made available to others subject to a suitable legally enforceable non-disclosure agreement.
- Research organisations will ensure that EPSRC-funded research data is securely preserved for a minimum of 10 years from the date that any researcher ‘privileged access’ period expires or, if others have accessed the data, from last date on which access to the data was requested by a third party; all reasonable steps will be taken to ensure that publicly-funded data is not held in any jurisdiction where the available legal safeguards provide lower levels of protection than are available in the UK.
- Research organisations will ensure that effective data curation is provided throughout the full data lifecycle, with ‘data curation’ and ‘data lifecycle’ being as defined by the Digital Curation Centre. The full range of responsibilities associated with data curation over the data lifecycle will be clearly allocated within the research organisation, and where research data is subject to restricted access the research organisation will implement and manage appropriate security controls; research organisations will particularly ensure that the quality assurance of their data curation processes is a specifically assigned responsibility.
- Research organisations will ensure adequate resources are provided to support the curation of publicly-funded research data; these resources will be allocated from within their existing public funding streams, whether received from Research Councils as direct or indirect support for specific projects or from higher education funding councils as block grants.