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The beginnings of the RatSWD go back to the year 1998.

The origins of the German Data Forum date back to 1998 when professors Richard Hauser, Gert G. Wagner, and Klaus F. Zimmermann published a memorandum titled “Conditions for the success of empirical economic research and research-based policy advice in economic and social policy”.

The report contained a detailed description of the problems that researchers faced, when accessing statistical data and called attention to data protection issues. The memorandum sparked an intense debate resulting in the establishment of the “Commission to Improve the Information Infrastructure between Research and Statistics” (Kommission zur Verbesserung der informationellen Infrastruktur zwischen Wissenschaft und Statistik, KVI) by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 1999. The commission submitted an expert report on necessary measures to improve the research data infrastructure for the empirical social and economic sciences (“Towards a better informational infrastructure” 2001). The founding committee of the German Data Forum was established in 2001.

During its formative years, the German Data Forum’s founding committee (2001–2004) charted the course towards the research data infrastructure’s improvement. First, research data centres were established and, in 2004, the German Data Forum was appointed as an advisory council to the federal government.

The subsequent appointment periods were shaped by diverse challenges. Central aims were:

  • Raising awareness among scientists, research sponsors, and policy makers for the relevance of research data and data access
  • Shaping a science-friendly legal framework
  • Setting standards and continuously improving user-friendly access to research data in line with data protection
  • Expanding the decentral network of research data centres


Commission (1999–2001)

Expert report published by the Commission for the Improvement of the Informational Infrastructure between Research and Statistics (KVI), appointed by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research

Founding committee (2001–2004)

Chair: Karl-Ulrich Mayer; Gert G. Wagner (from 01/03)
Vice-Chair: Hans-Jürgen Krupp
Founding committee

Appointment of the founding committee of the German Data Forum

1st appointment period (2004–2006)

Opening access to data

Chair: Gert G. Wagner
Vice-Chair: Heike Solga
All members

  • Development of the research data infrastructure
  • Improvement of access to education, health, firm, and financial market data
  • New access to media data, crime statistics, and judicial data to improve research opportunities
  • Data on education across the life cycle

2nd appointment period (2006–2008)

Securing the research data infrastructure

Chair: Gert Wagner; Heike Solga (since 02/08)
Vice-Chair: Heike Solga; Eckart Hohmann (since 02/08)
All members

  • Evaluation of the research data infrastructure
  • Securing the permanent status of the German data infrastructure
  • Optimization of existing crime statistics
  • Assessment of the data infrastructure in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences

3rd appointment period (2008–2011)

Unlocking the potential of research data

Chair: Gert G. Wagner
Vice-Chair: Petra Stanat; Notburga Ott (since 12/09)
All members

  • Georeferenced data
  • Recommendations on the establishment of a national mortality register in Germany
  • Modes of future data access
  • Scientific advisory of the 2011 Census
  • Establishment of the Standing Committee Research Data Infrastructure (FDI)
  • Evaluation of the German Data Forum by the German Council of Science and Humanities

4th appointment period (2011–2014)

Ensuring sustainability

Chair: Gert G. Wagner
Vice-Chair: Notburga Ott
All members

  • Representation of additional social sciences in the German Data Forum
  • Long-term preservation of research data
  • Archiving and data protection in qualitative social research
  • Quality standards of survey instruments
  • Search tools for finding data in the research data centers
  • Development of the research data infrastructure on a European level

5th appointment period (2014–2017)

Setting Standards

Chair: Regina T. Riphahn
Vice-Chair: Stefan Bender
All members

  • Principles and review procedures of research ethics
  • Quality assurance in the research data infrastructure
  • User-oriented recommendations on data protection
  • National and international networking

6th appointment period (2017–2020)

Consolidating successful structures

Chair: Regina T. Riphahn
Vice-Chair: Stefan Bender
All members

  • Consolidation and further improvement of the research data infrastructure
  • Digitisation of data collection and data provision
  • Creating and simplifying access paths to official statistics and Big Data
  • Archiving of qualitative data
  • Following-up on past recommendations on crime statistics, judicial data, research ethics, and data protection

7th appointment period (2020–2023)


Chair: Monika Jungbauer-Gans
Vice-Chair: Kerstin Schneider
All members

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