Supporting the work of the Open Research Data Task Force





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Identifying policy options and incentives to enhance open data, building capacity and capability, while assessing technical barriers, cross-disciplinary challenges, potential costs and benefits to government and the sector

Researchers are now creating, gathering and using data in hitherto-unimagined volumes, increasing the capacity of science to make sense of the complex systems that are at the heart of most global challenges.
It is in this context that a new paradigm of ‘open science’ has developed, that is more efficient, open to all, integrated across disciplines and societally engaged.

Open research data (ORD) has the potential not only to deliver greater efficiencies in research, but to improve its rigour and reproducibility, to enhance its impact, and to increase public trust in its results.

Research Consulting were asked to author the report by the Open Research Data Task Force on its study exploring how best to move scientists and scientific groups to a default position whereby such research is made findable, accessible, interoperable and re-useable (FAIR).

The Open Research Data Task Force was established by the then Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, in autumn 2016. The UK government wished to consider whether and how it might intervene to enhance the capacity of the powerful UK science base in effectively exploiting the potential of open research data.

The report produced for the Task Force examines whether there are processes of incentivisation, co-ordination, policy development, infrastructure provision or stimulation in key areas where intervention would benefit both the UK science system and society.

The findings are largely directed at research funders, research organisations and researchers themselves, but their efforts are most likely to bear fruit if underpinned by appropriate support and facilitation from government. Five key themes emerged, with associated recommendations for each. Better incentives and fewer barriers for researchers would broaden the understanding of different research communities’ needs with data-management facilitated by provision of specialist support services at all levels. Active leadership should see UKRI establish a co-ordinating stance on the roles and responsibilities to enable stronger engagement. Clear expectations are a long-term aim notable for data and software accessibility. User-friendly services across all subjects and disciplines are required, with support from Jisc to develop a set of commercial ORD principles. Finally, sustainable funding will improve an understanding of costs, business and funding models for ORD throughout the research lifecycle.