Data policy finalized for research data at HZB
Researchers retain exclusive access to their data for five years.
The instruments at the large facilities of Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin produce large quantities of raw data. These data must be stored long-term and should also be openly accessible. The rules for handling such data at HZB are now defined in its data policy. The management finalized the policy on June 14th, 2016. It stipulates that, as a rule, raw data should become openly accessible after five years.
One data policy for all users of the HZB large facilities
The data policy applies to all HZB researchers and to all external users of the HZB large facilities. In future, users must agree to the data policy when applying for beamtime. The policy does not yet apply to other HZB laboratory or research infrastructures that are not part of the large-scale facilities. The plan is, however, to extend the data policy gradually to those other areas.
The HZB data policy is based on a model formulated by the European PaNdata project, which is an agreement between photon and neutron facilities on how research data should be handled. Certain facilities in Europe have already established such data policies for their users, and HZB has now followed suit.
The data policy helps archiving and ensures open access to research data
Why do we need a data policy at HZB? Proper archiving of research data is important for ensuring the integrity (prevention of fraud) and reproducibility of scientific results. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft explicitly recommends that data be stored for at least ten years. Furthermore, research organisations are increasingly demanding open access. This includes granting open access even to the results of publicly funded research.
"These demands are often difficult to meet for the individual, however, if a scientist does not have access to a suitable IT infrastructure," says Rolf Krahl from the Department of Experimental Control and Data Acquisition (IT-ED). With its data policy, HZB helps researchers meet the demands for open access and data archiving – making the task much easier. The necessary IT infrastructure is currently being set up at HZB.
Fair balance of interests
The finalized data policy lays down the rules for exactly how data must be treated. "The data policy strives to achieve a fair balance of interests between the producers of the data on the one hand and the demand for open access to data on the other," says Ants Finke, head of the IT department. The data policy stipulates as a rule that the producers of data will retain exclusive access to their data for the first five years. After that, the data will become publicly available.
"Now that the data policy has been adopted, the actual work is just beginning," says Rolf Krahl. Work processes must be namely adapted to individual measuring stations in order to prepare the data for archiving and ultimately transfer them to the archiving system.