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Duties and activities

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is an independent body of empirically working scientists and representatives of the most important public institutions in data production. It advises the Federal Government and the federal states governments on research data infrastructure. It was established in 2004 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Organisation: Advisory council to the federal government

Members: 10 elected representatives from the empirical social, behavioural, educational and economic sciences and 10 representatives from data production

Chair: Prof. Dr. Monika Jungbauer-Gans
Vice-Chair: Prof. Dr. Kerstin Schneider

Term of office: 3 years, the current 8th appointment period runs from July 2023 until June 2026

Founded: 2004 (about the history and development of the RatSWD)

Funding: Funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) as part of the Consortium for the Social, Behavioural, Educational and Economic Sciences (KonsortSWD) (Period 10/2020–09/2025)

Mandate and Tasks

As an institutionalised forum for dialogue, it facilitates a continuous exchange between data producers and the data users in science and research with the aim of improving access to high-quality and scientifically potent data. These data are a product of public, private and scientific activities.

Recommendations on further improving the data infrastructure

  • Recommendations on how to secure and further improve data access, particularly by establishing and evaluating research data centers and data service centers according to a set of clear standards
  • Recommendations on how to improve data use through the provision of scientific and statistical data (research data portal; metadata) and appropriate documentation
  • Recommendations on research topics and research tasks pertaining to the conceptual development of data infrastructures on the national, European and international level
  • Recommendations on how to optimise the production and provision of research-relevant data

Advising science and policy

  • Advising the Federal Ministry for Research and the Länder governments on the development of the research-based data infrastructure
  • Advice on legislative procedures
  • Advising public and private data producers
  • Advising data producers that are institutionally unaffiliated with independent scientific research on how to receive certification as a scientific research institution (certification)

Monitoring legal and technological developments

  • Monitoring national and legal developments in data provision
  • Monitoring technological developments, e.g. virtual research environments

Conference for Social and Economic Data

  • The German Data Form (RatSWD) hosts the Conference for Social and Economic Data (Konferenz für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, KSWD) every three years. It serves as a platform for discussing topics pertaining to empirical social, behavioural and economic data as well as process-produced or survey-based data production. Participation is open to all interested researchers.
  • The German Data Forum (RatSWD) organises colloquia, panel discussions and workshops that foster an ongoing exchange between researchers and data producers.

Structure and workflow

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) consists of ten representatives from social, behavioural, educational and economic research, who gain legitimacy by election, and ten representatives of major data producers. This mode of equal representation ensures a broad range of expertise on the committee. The German Data Forum plays a key role in developing research infrastructures in the social, behavioural, educational and economic sciences and is committed to creating research-friendly legal and political frameworks.

Cooperation with the Committee for Research Data Infrastructure (FDI Committee)

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) accredits at the time being 41 research data centres, which work together in the Committee for Research Data Infrastructure (FDI Committee), or FDI Committee for short. The FDI Committee is a dynamic, decentralized network. With it, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) has created an infrastructure enabling researchers to flexibly access a wide range of data.

Work programmes

Strategic Agenda of the 7th appointment period 2020–2023

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) will bring specific issues of empirical research into politics and legislation, address new challenges in data collection, and advocate for a change in data culture.

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Strategic Agenda of the 6th appointment period 2017–2020

In its 6th appointment period, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) advocated for the further development of the research data infrastructure for the empirical social, behavioural, and economic sciences in terms of quality and quantity.

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

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