• 2016-12-02
  • Article

The RDA is founded on the ideal of data sharing, yet sharing cannot be completely unrestricted. Many stakeholders have an interest in controlling or restricting access to some digital material, and not only for selfish motives but for perfectly valid ethical reasons. The enforcement of restrictions might be underpinned by legislation, or by policies and practices of particular organisations individually or working in concert. In any case the aim is to prevent unauthorised access to digital material that might cause harm of some kind, whether to national security, the lives of individuals, or commercial or scientific interests.

Data concerning identifiable human subjects is particularly sensitive, since issues of confidentiality and privacy arise; such data is subject to data protection legislation at European and national levels. Concerns of confidentiality arise particularly in certain domains such as healthcare, though are not restricted to these domains. Even data that does not concern human subjects might be sensitive: for example, the location of archaeological sites or of rare animal and plant species. In the field of linguistics, the study of language corpora (such as newspaper articles) might be constrained by copyright and rights of exploitation and usage of the material.

Although the benefits of opening scientific data are widely accepted, and even when no ethical concerns arise of the type just outlined, there are countervailing forces. For example, the Common Principles on Data Policy of Research Councils UK (http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/datapolicy/) acknowledges that “those who undertake Research Council funded work may be entitled to a limited period of privileged use of the data they have collected to enable them to publish the results of their research.”

Organisations of many different kinds—data repositories and archives, libraries, research funding bodies, universities, etc.—put in place policies to govern what data can or must be shared, when and how. For example, funding bodies may impose requirements (expressed as policies) on repositories where their researchers are expected to deposit data, as well as on the researchers themselves to enforce the deposition. It is obviously desirable for there to be some coherence in policies that originate from different sources (for example, funding bodies in the same field). The policies must be conformant with legislation where applicable.

There are other uses of policies within the broad field of research data. At a lower level, policies are used to manage the operation of data repositories in a principled way, governing matters such as metadata acquisition, backup and retention.

Topic Graph

Relevant RDA groups

BioSharing Registry WG The aim of this working group is to produce a searchable registry of linked and reliable resources (funder policies, databases, content standards, journals) for a variety of stakeholders working in the life sciences. These stakeholders – such as researchers, funders, and journals – will be able to select and recommend community endorsed standards, while repository developers will be able to confirm the requirements of their products for discoverability and endorsement.

Data Security and Trust WG The Data Security and Trust WG is currently in formation and does not yet have documentation or outputs.

Education and Training on Handling of Research Data IG

The Education and Training on Handling of Research Data IG recognises the need for a new set of competencies and skills in research data management and data sharing, and the weaknesses in current provision of education and training in these areas.  The group aims to promote training and education in this area and make the case for creating taxonomies of the skills required in order to facilitate standardisation and professional recognition in education environments.

Ethics and Social Aspects of Data IG The Ethics and Social Aspects of Data IG is concerned with challenges in handling, storing and reusing certain types of data including medical data and “dangerous data” and the development of policies and practices that can underpin such activities in a principled way.

Health Data IG The Health Data IG has a particular focus on privacy and security issues in healthcare data. Also this group just started its work.

Practical Policies WG The Practical Policies WG is widely agnostic to concrete data models, since it collects a wide variety of typical data management and analytics workflows that are being executed on collections. It can be used so that it supports the DFT model.

RDA/CODATA Legal Interoperability IG The RDA/CODATA Legal Interoperability IG has multiple aims around legal interoperability, including Defining legal interoperability of research data and articulate why it is important for data interoperability and reuse and developing and publishing core principles and guidelines of best practices through which legal interoperability can be achieved.

RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets IG The RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets IG aims to develop a framework for how researchers and repositories should handle data with human subjects, focussing particularly on privacy aspects. This group also just started.

Outputs of the Practical Policy WG

  • Identification of eleven generic policy areas for operation with data collections stored in repositories and a template-based collection of policy specifications in these areas being collected in a cookbook.
  • Development of code snippets to support policy specifications and making it easy for people to turn to executable procedures

Outputs of the BioSharing Registry WG

  • A web-based, searchable portal of three interlinked registries, containing descriptions of standards, databases and data policies.
  • Specifications of how to interlink these different knowledge sources were specified.

Outputs of the Data Security and Trust WG

No outputs yet

Outputs of the Education and Training on Handling of Research Data IG

No outputs yet

Outputs of the RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets IG

No outputs yet

Outputs of the Ethics and Social Aspects of Data IG

No outputs yet

Outputs of the Health Data IG

No outputs yet

Outputs of the RDA/CODATA Legal Interoperability IG G

The IG has produced a set of principles and practical implementation guidelines as high-level guidance regarding access to and reuse of research data from diverse sources.