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German Data Forum Publishes 2015 Activity Report of the Accredited Research Data Centres

The German Data Forum (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, RatSWD) has published a comprehensive activity report on its accredited research data centres (RDCs) for the first time. The report showcases the RDCs’ capabilities and broad range of data and services. Apart from outlining the development of the research data infrastructure, it also includes information on the accredited research data centres’ data and their usage, quality assurance measures, staffing and central areas of current development.

The accreditation of 30 research data centres by the German Data Forum has established itself as a mode of quality assurance that satisfies the requirements of both science and research and data protection. The research data centres provide researchers with access to extensive, sensitive data in accordance with data protection regulation. Moreover, they offer data users competent support and a wide range of services. This is unique compared to other research disciplines on the national level as well as on the international level. The activity report, published by the German Data Forum for the first time, showcases their entire scientific and organisational spectrum. It aims to make the structure and the broad range of services of the accredited research data centres more visible and to foster (international) exchange.

Key results of the 2015 report include: 223 people (full-time equivalents) were employed across the 30 research data centres accredited by the German Data Forum. Many of these employees conduct independent research with the available data – 24 out of 30 research data centres employ academically trained staff.  The research data centres provided access to a total of 2,862 datasets, which are accessible for researchers. Moreover, the research data centres are well-connected: most of them (27 out of 30) were part of collaborative research projects in 2015.

The introduction of persistent identifiers for the datasets available to researchers was an important field of development for research data centres in recent years (e.g., DOI). They facilitate citation of the datasets offered by research data centres. The development of remote access as well as remote execution solutions, which facilitate the use of location-independent data while safeguarding compliance with data protection regulation, also was an important topic. The activity report takes a close look at both aspects.

The activity report is based on the output of the annual reporting system delivered by the accredited research data centres, which helps to secure the quality of research data and to identify potential areas of research infrastructure development. The publication is available in print and online via the German Data Forum’s business office or website, respectively.