All research publications produced by any RVC authors must include a statement on how the underlying data can be accessed (a "data access statement"). This is in line with RCUK and individual funder policies.
A data access statement should include the following key pieces of information:
- How the data can be accessed: where it can be downloaded from or who must be contacted to request access. This should always include either a web link (a DOI or other persistent identifier if possible) or a departmental/group email address.
- What conditions use of the data is subject to: whether a general licence applies to all users, or whether a data sharing agreement must be entered into before access to the data is granted.
- If data are openly available the name(s) of the data repositories should be provided, as well as any persistent identifiers or accession numbers for the dataset.
- If there are justifiable legal or ethical reasons why your data cannot be made available, these should be included in the data access statement.
- If the data themselves are not openly available, the data access statement should direct users to a permanent record that describes any access constraints or conditions that must be satisfied for access to be granted.
- It is important that any links to the data are persistent. Digital Object Identifiers are a type of persistent URL that are provided for datasets by many specialist data archives.
- If you did not collect the research data yourself but instead used existing data obtained from another source, this source should be credited.
Under some circumstances, it may be appropriate to explain that access to the data is not available at all. In this case, you must give clear and justified reasons:
"The data underlying this article are not available by agreement with our partners to protect their commercial confidentiality."
Getting Access to the Data.
If your data (or simply metadata describing it) is stored in a dedicated repository, then simply include a link to the appropriate page on the repository website. If possible, use a persistent identifier, such as a DataCite DOI. Some journals though allow additional information, including supporting data, to be attached to an article. This option isn't ideal as they are only suitable for small datasets, and you should be aware that some publishers unintentionally corrupt data submitted as supplementary information. All the data made available through this route will usually be subject to licence conditions applied by the publisher, so check that you're happy with these before making data available in this way, if you aren't sure then contact the research office to confirm.
In a very few circumstances it may be necessary, to limit access to only verified researchers by requiring people to request for access to a specific dataset. For example, this might be required to properly control access to sensitive information in line with consent forms signed during your project.
You must not require requesters to email a specific person, as the instructions must remain valid for at least 10 years and there is a risk that individuals will change jobs in that period, or simply be away when a request arrives. EPSRC in particular have explicitly stated this requirement.
Instead, use the firstname.lastname@example.org email address for any requests for access to data.
If your data is subject to any embargos, then clearly state the end date of any embargo period. This will not always be readily apparent if the embargo period is given relative to the date of publication of the article.
Where to place the data access statement.
Most journals now provide a separate section in articles for the data access statement. When no such section exist, our suggestion is that you include the data access statement with the acknowledgement of funder support.
A formal data citation can also be included either with the main references or in a specified data citation section.
Additional Resources (external links):