Research data rights: what are they, why do you need them, and what can you do with them?

Categorised: ENGAGE, News

These questions are often asked by researchers and data managers. To help answer such questions the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) has developed the Research Data Rights Management Guide.

Researchers spend a lot of time creating, curating and publishing their data in the hope that it may be reused or lead to future collaborations - but it can all be for nothing if the data does not have a licence attached to it. Having data available without a licence is the equivalent of saying “all rights reserved” and there is not a lot that others can then do with it.

The guide helps researchers and data managers choose an appropriate licence via the Data rightsholder’s / creators flowchart. It walks them through what to consider when using data not owned or created by the researcher, and how to ensure appropriate licences on data that is supplied through a facility. The guide also looks at a number of key issues such as:

  • is there copyright or other IP in data?
  • does copyright in data really matter?
  • what about restricted data?

An emerging principle (explicitly adopted by the European Commission) is that research data be “as open as possible but as closed as necessary”. The more openly data is licenced the more that can be done with it. Open licences overcome legal issues around the data being used for data mining and meta analysis. Open licences also make the data more discoverable by a wider audience, opening up the potential for increased citations, and they broaden the impact of the research and maximise the potential reuse of the data.

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