Wired to go. Wire? Wire not? Image: Darwin Bell, Flickr

Where are your data? How would you feel if somebody contacted you and asked to see it? Public access to research data is an initiative being driven forward by big research funders, influential societies and government. In essence the aim is to ensure transparency and reflect the right to access information through the Freedom of Information Act.

Data Management Plans are now a common part of the application process for research funding and the EPSRC helped roll the ball by mandating that research organisations comply with EPSRC expectations. These include making metadata (the data about data) available online in a way that is visible, searchable and accessible and that accurately represents the underlying research data, in most cases, 12 months after its generation. If access to the underlying data is restricted then the metadata must include the reasons for restriction and conditions of access. Research data must be available for a minimum of 10 years. All publications resulting from RCUK funding require a statement detailing how underlying data can be accessed.

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