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, behavioral and economic sciences and 10 representatives from data production
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)
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 eight representatives from social, behavioural and economic research, who gain legitimacy by election, and eight 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 and economic sciences and is committed to creating research-friendly legal and political frameworks.
Moreover, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) coordinates 42 research data centres, which are accredited according to its guidelines. The research data centres work together in the Standing Committee Research Data Infrastructure, or FDI Committee for short. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has created an infrastructure enabling researchers to flexibly access a wide range of data.