Regulation of open access to research data. A study about open access to research data and the role of the Dutch governement.

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Accessibility to research data is an upcoming issue in science and society. The possibility to have access to research data is part of the ‘open’ movement of current society. Open access to research data is the right to access and re-use digital research data, without any additional costs for the user. The general opinion is that research data need to be accessible for the public. People want to have access to data, because people feel they have the right to access the data; it is about ‘democratisation of data’. ‘Open by default’ is the central aim of open access to research, by taking into account sensitive and commercial data and the interests of businesses and industry. Open access to research data creates opportunities. Easier access to research data can contribute to poor efficiency of research data by re-using data and increases the quality of research. Open access facilitates validation, verification and evaluation of research (results). However, open access to research data does have down-sides. Issues related to privacy, confidentiality or security could form a barrier for open access. Furthermore, there is a lack of awareness for the benefit that open research data could bring to the science system. Also the infrastructure of data systems and other technical aspects of data depositing, storage and security are not always well-known for researchers. Costs of publishing and maintaining data can also hinder open access to research data. In general, there is agreement on the necessity of intervention and a regulatory framework on open access to research data. The focus of the framework should be: ‘as open as possible, closed if needed’. A regulatory framework should at least be flexible, discipline dependent and approached on a case-by-case basis. A data management plan is recommended and should at least entail information about: discoverability, protection of data, data storage and data authenticity. The framework should create an environment of awareness, trust and recognition and support for researchers. The feasibility of such a regulatory framework depends on the willingness and commitment of all stakeholders. Therefore a continuous open dialogue between the government and all stakeholders should be set up. The government should take up a coordinating role by initiating meetings and training for all stakeholders. Additionally, the government should stay informed and should inform stakeholders. Facilitation is also proposed by giving financial support to researchers. The government should also take up a role as legislator by creating soft law. Incentives could also be implemented, like encouraging institutional recognition of publishing data for researchers. In general, governmental intervention should only be done if necessary. Regulation can also be done at other levels (by institutions, publishers and funders). In addition, regulation should be done at several different levels and in parallel. Hybrid regulation and cooperation in open access to research data is necessary in order to boost research and innovation.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen