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The German Data Forum (RatSWD) advises the federal government and the state governments on expanding and improving the research data infrastructure for the empirical social, behavioural and economic sciences since 2004.


As an institutionalised forum for dialogue, it facilitates a continuous exchange between data producers and the data users in science and research with the aim of improving access to high-quality and scientifically potent data. These data are a product of public, private and scientific activities.

Recommendations on further improving the data infrastructure

  • Recommendations on how to secure and further improve data access, particularly by establishing and evaluating research data centers and data service centers according to a set of clear standards
  • Recommendations on how to improve data use through the provision of scientific and statistical data (research data portal; metadata) and appropriate documentation
  • Recommendations on research topics and research tasks pertaining to the conceptual development of data infrastructures on the national, European and international level
  • Recommendations on how to optimise the production and provision of research-relevant data

Advising science and policy

  • Advising the Federal Ministry for Research and the Länder governments on the development of the research-based data infrastructure
  • Advising public and private data producers
  • Advising data producers that are institutionally unaffiliated with independent scientific research on how to receive certification as a scientific research institution (certification)

Monitoring legal and technological developments

  • Monitoring national and legal developments in data provision
  • Monitoring technological developments, e.g. virtual research environments

Conference for Social and Economic Data

  • The German Data Form (RatSWD) hosts the Conference for Social and Economic Data (Konferenz für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, KSWD) every three years. It serves as a platform for discussing topics pertaining to empirical social, behavioral and economic data as well as process-produced or survey-based data production. Participation is open to all interested researchers.
  • The German Data Forum (RatSWD) organises colloquia, panel discussions and workshops that foster an ongoing exchange between researchers and data producers.

Structure and workflow

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) consists of eight representatives from social, behavioural and economic research, who gain legitimacy by election, and eight representatives of major data producers. This mode of equal representation ensures a broad range of expertise on the committee. The German Data Forum plays a key role in developing research infrastructures in the social, behavioural and economic sciences and is committed to creating research-friendly legal and political frameworks.

Moreover, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) coordinates 41 research data centres, which are accredited according to its guidelines. The research data centres work together in the Standing Committee Research Data Infrastructure, or FDI Committee for short. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has created an infrastructure enabling researchers to flexibly access a wide range of data.

Members of the German Data Forum (RatSWD)

  • 10 members from the social, behavioural, and economic sciences,
  • 1 member from the Federal Statistical Office,
  • 1 member from a Statistical Office of the Länder,
  • 1 member from the IAB Institute for Employment Research or the German Federal Employment Agency,
  • 1 member from an institution from the German social insurance system,
  • 1 member from the area of official health data,
  • 1 member from the area of official financial data,
  • 4 members from the area of science-based data production.