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Results of the 41st meeting of the German Data Forum: Recommendations on the census, cooperation with the UK Data Forum, new reporting system

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) convened for its 41st meeting on 31st March and 1st of April 2016 in Berlin. Key issues included the recommendations on the 2021 census and the early provision of the resulting microdata for research; an exchange with the UK Data Forum on strengthening international cooperation; the revision of the accreditation criteria for data centres and a new reporting system which will improve the data for producing an annual activity report on the research data infrastructure.

Important decisions are currently being made regarding the execution of the census in 2021. The German Data Forum has a particular interest in this process to secure the enormous potential of census data for empirical research. Therefore its members agreed on issuing policy recommendations on the scientific monitoring and evaluation of the population census and early provision of census microdata for research. The recommendations will be developed by the working group “Census” under the direction of Prof. Dr. Rockmann (German Institute for Economic Research), who is the former president of the State Statistical Agency of Berlin-Brandenburg. They will be published in April / May 2016.

The initially weak positioning of the empirical sciences in the working drafts of the EU data protection reform required strengthening their organization and lobbying efforts on the European level. (See press release from 23rd December 2015) In exchange with the UK Data Forum, a long-standing partner of the German Data Forum, both parties agreed to intensify cooperation with the aim of giving empirical research a strong voice in Europe. The common and unique strengths of both committees will be of particular relevance: both systematically bring together data users, data producers, policy, and research funders. Key areas of cooperation will include accompanying the implementation of the EU data protection regulation in the member states, strategic coordination of panel studies in Germany and the UK, and research ethics in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences.

The German Data Forum adopted revised and more specialized criteria for the accreditation of data centres. In the intermediate term, it is planned to establish a complaints office that data centre users can turn to if they see that the practice of an accredited data centre is in violation of the accreditation criteria.

The newly structured reporting system will improve the data foundation for the data centre’s joint annual activity report. This report will provide information on the diversity and potential of the data centres accredited by the German Data Forum and showcase their development in a transparent way.

The 42nd meeting of the RatSWD will take place on the 23/24 June 2016 in Berlin.