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RatSWD: What a data institute should do from a scientific perspective

In its position paper, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) underscores the need for a data institute from a scientific perspective. The independent advisory council of the federal government formulates concrete requirements for the project initiated by the coalition formed by SPD, FDP and Green Party: Data access and data linkage are central to this for researchers.

The RatSWD welcomes the German government’s plan to create a data institute in order to strengthen the data infrastructure in Germany. After all, data and access to data are important for business, science, politics and society. However, in the view of the RatSWD, the plans of the coalition formed by SPD, FDP and Green Party need to be put into concrete terms and science must play a central role in this.

Over the past 20 years, the RatSWD has successfully advanced data access for science, for example through the establishment of networked research data centers (FDZ) and the work in the NFDI. The Data Institute should consistently continue these developments as part of the federal government’s digital strategy. Questions of data access for scientific research that are still open must be systematically addressed in this context.

From the perspective of science, two aspects are central: first, the data institute should support the interests of science, because science is the core of a knowledge-based society. Obstacles to scientific use of data must be removed – while respecting the requirements of data protection and taking into account legitimate interests and rights to data. Second, the Data Institute is to become a central hub in Germany’s data ecosystem. As a technical platform, it is to link and provide data from different sources and thus also act as a data trustee. The RatSWD offers to contribute its expertise structurally in the future, for example in an advisory board of the data institute.

“Questions of data infrastructure and data access are no longer a special topic of science, but are widely discussed in politics, media and society. Initial measures have been taken at the European level and initiatives have also been taken by industry. What is needed now is the political will to implement them in Germany, as well as good concepts to address the deficits in Germany,” emphasizes the Chair of the RatSWD, Prof. Dr. Monika Jungbauer-Gans.

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 41 research data centres, and encourages their cooperation.

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