It is difficult for researchers and those supporting them to understand how open access to research data can be legally obtained and re-used. This is due to the fact that European and national laws vary and researchers work across national boundaries.
A possible approach to providing clarity would be that researchers assign a licence to their data. This practice could be incorporated in a code of conduct for researchers.
The report ‘The legal status of research data in the Knowledge Exchange partner countries’ was commissioned by Knowledge Exchange (KE) and written by the Centre for Intellectual Property Law (CIER). The aim of the report was to provide clarity by analysing the intellectual property regimes in the four KE countries and European database law.
Moreover, the report provides three recommendations to achieve better access: making contractual arrangements with authors, harmonisation of European copyright law and setting up of policies on commercial interests.
Background of the study
Intellectual property right regulations regarding primary research data are a recurrent topic in the discussion on the improvement of access to research data. In fact in the final report of the High Level Expert Group on Scientific Data ‘Riding the Wave’ creating clarity on this was considered very important in improving awareness for all parties involved. According to the recommendations of the report legal issues should be “worked out so that they encourage, and not impede, global data sharing”
While open access to research data is a widely recognised goal, achieving it remains a challenge. As European national laws still diverge and sometimes remain unclear it can be difficult for interested parties to fully comprehend in which ways open access to research data can be legally obtained.
The report aims at informing Knowledge Exchange and associated stakeholders on the state of the law concerning access to research data in the KE partner countries (Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) and to give an insight in how these laws work in practice. This is explained in several characteristic situations pertaining to open access to research data.
The purpose of the report is to identify flaws and obstacles to the access to research data and to single out pre-conditions for openly available data. This is in view of the current discussions concerning open access to research data, especially those originating from publicly funded research. The report intends to be both a description of the status quo of the legislation and a practical instrument to prepare further activities in raising awareness on the potential benefit of improved access to research data, and developing means to support the improved access for research purposes.
Photo: Alexander Louvet