OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding
OECD. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
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In January 2004, Ministers of science and technology of OECD countries met in Paris and discussed the need for international guidelines on access to research data. At that meeting, the governments of the 30 OECD countries and of China, Israel, Russia and South Africa adopted a Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding. In this declaration, they recognised the importance of access to research data and invited the OECD “to develop a set of OECD guidelines based on commonly agreed principles to facilitate optimal cost-effective access to digital research data from public funding to be endorsed by the OECD Council at a later stage”. This request was taken up by OECD’s Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy, which launched a project by asking a group of experts to develop a set of principles and guidelines. The experts drafted a first set of principles and guidelines and engaged in several rounds of consultation with research institutions and policy making bodies in the OECD member countries to achieve a consensus. A workshop involving key stakeholders was held in Paris in February 2006 which also contributed to this process. The work leading up to the final draft revealed that international frameworks to facilitate access were still lacking in the member countries, but also that improved access was generally seen as benefiting the advancement of research, boosting its quality and facilitate cross-disciplinary research cooperation. Stakeholders considered that international guidelines would be useful in giving guidance to institutions in need of policies and in enhancing international co-operation in research. The principles and guidelines that resulted from this extensive consultation process were approved by the OECD’s Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy in October 2006. The Principles and Guidelines were attached to an OECD Recommendation and endorsed by the OECD Council on 14 December 2006. The attached Principles and Guidelines are meant to apply to research data that are gathered using public funds for the purposes of producing publicly accessible knowledge. The nature of “public funding” of research varies significantly from one country to the next, as do existing data access policies and practices at the national, disciplinary and institutional levels. These differences call for a flexible approach in developing data access arrangements. The balance between the costs of improved access to research data and the benefits that result from such access will need to be judged by individual national governments and their research communities.