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Modern Research Policy in Sight: Position of the German Data Forum (RatSWD) on the Coalition Agreement at the Federal Level

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) believes that the coalition agreement of the new government sets new and positive accents. Digitisation is to be promoted across all ministries and a deepened cooperation between politics and science is aimed for. The goal of drafting a research data law and making data in general more accessible to science is particularly welcomed. The German Data Forum will closely accompany and support the implementation of the projects.

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has long been advocating for access to administrative and scientific data. In its position paper (see also https://www.konsortswd.de/aktuelles/pressemitteilungen/01102021) on the occasion of the Bundestag elections, it defined concrete recommendations to politicians in seven fields of action – including the improvement of data provision and the development of a research data law. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) considers it a great opportunity for science in Germany that many of the German Data Forum (RatSWD) demands have been included in the coalition agreement for the new federal government. The following points are particularly noteworthy:

  • A research data law is intended to comprehensively improve and simplify access to data for researchers. Research clauses are to be introduced.
  • Priority is given to register modernisation. Access to data for science is to be facilitated through a register law and a health-data use law.
  • A Digital Service Act aims to provide access to data from large platforms for researchers.
  • The national research data infrastructure (NFDI) in Germany is to be further developed and efforts are being made to strengthen the European research data space.
  • Together with the federal states, the new federal government would like to improve the informative value of crime and criminal justice statistics.
  • A planned institute for empirical tax research is to create an up-to-date and better data situation, for example for the evaluation of tax regulations and as a basis for evidence-based legislation.
  • Research needs are to be addressed more effectively across ministries and science is to be promoted more quickly and effectively, especially in crisis situations.

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is very positive about these initiatives, especially the planned Research Data Act. Nevertheless, it is important to point out at this point that a successful improvement of the research data situation in Germany can only succeed in cooperation with the scientific community. This applies especially to the modernisation of registers, the further development of criminal and criminal justice statistics and the establishment of a tax research institute. It is of central importance for Germany as a research location to grant all researchers the same rights when it comes to data access. It is therefore important to the German Data Forum (RatSWD) that non-discriminatory data access is established for the scientific community. The exact implementation of the projects will be decisive, and the German Data Forum (RatSWD) will be happy to closely monitor and support this process.

The coalition agreement promises a new departure in science policy and a modernisation of cooperation between science and politics. Evidence-based political decisions can only be made on the basis of free, independent research that is also empowered to take action. The ability of science to act could be significantly improved by the amendments of the new federal government.

As an independent scientific advisory body to the Federal Government, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) is looking forward to working together and gladly offers its support for the further development of the German science system in the 20th legislative period.

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) advises the federal government and the governments in the federal states on expanding and improving the research data infrastructure for the empirical social, behavioural and economic sciences since 2004. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is made up of ten elected representatives from the social, behavioural, and economic disciplines who work together with ten representatives from key data producers.

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is part of the Consortium for Social, Behavioural, Educational, and Economic sciences (KonsortSWD) in the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). It acts as an institutionalised forum for dialogue between science and data producers, as well as developing recommendations and opinions. It is committed to supporting an infrastructure that enables sciences to have broad, flexible, and secure data access. These data are provided by state, science-based, and private-sector actors. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has currently accredited 40 research data centres (as of February 2021), and encourages their cooperation.