Open or "just" available? How accessible must the project research data be?
As open as possible, as closed as necessary
At the same time as Open Data is important, open access to research data may not always be possible or desirable. This attitude can be summarised as accessibility to data on one hand should be as open as possible, but as closed as necessary.
This means that the opportunities of limiting access to research data remain. It also means a shift toward an attitude where open access is seen as the norm, whilst limited access to research output requires a justification. This is noticeable not least with regards to EU research funding.
Possible reasons to limit access to research data can be ethical concerns (for instance the protection of informants’ personal integrity), issues regarding security, temporary embargoes, agreements and copyright.
Research data and metadata
In the work of making research data accessible, there are two parts that are dependant on each other, but that should also be handled separately. One part concerns research data – the core itself. The other concerns metadata.
The level of openness regarding accessibility to original data, research data, can vary. However, the metadata should always be as openly accessible as possible.
Metadata describes the research data of the project seen from a number of variables, one being accessibility. If access to data for any given reason is limited, the metadata describes the reason why, and what is required to access this data – whether the aspects are legal, technical or practical.
It may be the case that only the researcher, and maybe a limited few others, have access to the data. This must then be stated in the metadata.
This information is factual only and not to be considered legal advice. Contact the university legal advisors at the Vice-Chancellor's office if legal advice is needed.