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German Data Forum publishes strategic agenda for its 6th appointment period

During the next three years, the German Data Forum (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, RatSWD) is committed to further enhancing the scope and quality of the research data infrastructure in the social, behavioural and economic sciences. It will produce recommendations on digital methods of data collection, on archiving and re-using qualitative data, and on improving access to data from the private sector as well as tax and wealth data. Moreover, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) will continue to support law-making processes and international networking.

The Strategic Agenda 2017-2020 was passed during the German Data Forum’s 47th Sitting on 7.12.2017. For more information, please visit: https://www.ratswd.de/en/strategic_agenda

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has come a long way since its founding in 2004. Over the past five appointment periods, it has contributed substantially to improving the availability of research data in the social, behavioural and economic sciences and the conditions for empirical research. However, further steps are necessary. During its 6th appointment period, the German Data Forum’s strategic agenda will focus on the following key areas:

1. New data sources and data access for researchers
2. Supporting the further development of the research data infrastructure
3. Advising legislators during the law-making process

The German Data Forum’s activities are part of a greater effort to represent the interests of the social, behavioural and economic sciences in the future National Research Data Infrastructure. The RatSWD working groups develop recommendations on concrete issues, including the reduction of barriers to accessing data from the private sector and the use of tax and wealth data for independent research. Another working group focuses on novel methods of data collection, which are being opened up by the use of new technologies (e.g. mobile devices and virtual reality).

Additional working groups are developing recommendations on improving data accessibility of crime statistics and legal data and on introducing remote access to data from official statistics agencies. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) will be hosting a workshop in April 2018, addressing the specific problems of archiving and accessing qualitative research data. Moreover, a RatSWD working group will look at the participation of German social, behavioural and economic science communities in national roadmap processes, which are highly relevant for infrastructure policy on a national level as well as on a European level.

Researchers in Germany have at their disposal an internationally unique research data infrastructure, which consists RatSWD accredited research data centres. This infrastructure will be further expanded and enhanced to facilitate best-possible data access for scientific researchers in accordance with legal regulation. During the following years, the research data centres (RDCs) accredited by the German Data Forum (RatSWD) will continue to work on harmonisation, while using their specific strengths, for example, archiving of diverse data types. Together with the German Data Forum (RatSWD), RDCs will develop recommendations on skill development for data producers as well as data users.

Additionally, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) will address current political developments that are relevant for empirical research and the research data infrastructure. It is committed to ensuring that the needs of empirical researchers are systematically taken into account in law-making processes. To this end, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) issues statements aimed at policy-makers. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) will follow-up on debates sparked by recommendations in past appointment periods. They have included issues such as panel surveys, data protection and research ethics. Since many of the issues raised and their solutions are not restricted to Germany, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) will continue efforts to enhance international cooperation.