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Research Data Act: RatSWD formulates key demands

In its position paper published today, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) welcomes the public consultation process on the BMBF's Research Data Act. In addition to the statement of the RatSWD, numerous statements were received from various stakeholders from science, business and civil society. This underlines the need for a research data law to improve science's access to data.

The adoption of a Research Data Act was already announced by the Federal Government in the coalition agreement and confirmed in its recently adopted data strategy. As part of the consultation process of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), more than 100 comments have now been received; the German Data Forum (RatSWD) has also participated and is taking the opportunity to further specify its position in a position paper. After the RatSWD was the first institution from the scientific community to publish the first key points for a research data law last year, the demands are now being sharpened once again.

In its position paper, the RatSWD formulates four main demands that the Research Data Act should address. These include access by the scientific community to data that is not generated in the scientific process. In particular, access to (personal) official statistical data and administrative data should be anchored in the law. In addition, the law should provide for far-reaching linkability of data for research. The access of science to data from the economy does not necessarily have to be regulated by law, but new cooperation models should be examined in order to tap the potential of these data for science. In addition, data trustees can play an important role in ensuring regulated access to data. The Research Data Centres (FDZ), which the RatSWD has accredited, are also data trustees for mostly personal data and have already proven themselves in this function. The protection and confidentiality of research data also remain important.

“The high number of comments submitted in the consultation process by many different stakeholders shows how important the topic is. Now it is up to the politicians to act and improve the conditions for research with the law,” says Prof. Dr Monika Jungbauer-Gans, Chair of the RatSWD. “Germany must catch up with international standards when it comes to access to research data. This is the only way we can remain competitive as a science and provide good advice to policymakers,” adds Prof. Dr. Kerstin Schneider, Deputy Chair of the RatSWD.

Download Positionspapier [German only]

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has been advising the Federal Government and the governments of the German states on questions of research data infrastructure for the empirical social, behavioural and economic sciences since 2004. In the RatSWD, ten representatives of the social, behavioural and economic disciplines, legitimised by election, work together with ten representatives of data production.

The RatSWD is part of the Consortium for the Social, Behavioural, Educational and Economic Sciences (KonsortSWD) in the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). It sees itself as an institutionalised forum for dialogue between science and data producers and develops recommendations and statements. In doing so, it is committed to an infrastructure that provides science with broad, flexible and secure access to data. These data are provided by governmental, science-based and private-sector actors. Currently, the RatSWD has accredited 42 research data centres and promotes their cooperation.