Research Data Access Statements Explained27 October 2022
by Kellie Snow, Research Data Librarian, University Library Service
The new UKRI Open Access policy, which came into force on 1st April 2022, requires all in-scope research articles “to include a Data Access Statement, even where there are no data associated with the article or the data are inaccessible”. So what is a data access statement and what should it include?
What is a data access statement?
In order to find data that supports an academic publication, the article needs to explain to readers how data can be found and accessed. This information is called a data access statement, or sometimes a data availability statement. Many journals have a dedicated section of the paper for data access statements. If this does not exist these statements are usually included in the Acknowledgements section of an article.
It is worth noting that UKRI and its associated research councils already have policies in place around the sharing of data generated during a research project. The requirements around a data access statement go hand in hand with these existing policies, allowing you to provide that link between your findings covered in the article and the underlying evidence that supports them.
What should a data access statement contain?
A data access statement normally consists of just a few sentences explaining how any underlying data can be accessed. In many cases, the recommended way to make data available is through a research data repository. Research data repositories provide a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for published datasets, which means data can be persistently cited and the DOI will always take readers to a landing page with further information on how the data can be accessed. You should avoid using personal emails or project websites wherever possible as a means of providing and detailing access, as these can change or disappear relatively quickly, making the information in your statement out of date.
Openly available data
If your data can be made openly available and has been published in a data repository then the data access statement can be simple, for example “All data supporting this study is openly available in Figshare data repository at [DOI].”
Data with restrictions
The UKRI policy states that “Publicly funded research data should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible”. However, UKRI do acknowledge that there may be reasons to protect access to data, such as commercial confidentiality or sensitivities around data derived from human participants. In these instances your data access statement should briefly explain why the data cannot be made openly available, and if there are still any routes to access. For example: –
“Due to ethical concerns, supporting data cannot be made openly available. Further information about the data and conditions for access are available at Cardiff University Research Data Archive at [DOI].”
“Due to confidentiality agreements with research collaborators, supporting data can only be made available to bona fide researchers subject to a non-disclosure agreement. Details of the data and how to request access are available at the Cardiff University Research Data Archive at [DOI].”
Using existing data
If you are reusing an existing dataset, then the data access statement should explain where you obtained this data from and how others can do the same, including any references or identifiers that would enable users to find that specific dataset.
No associated data
Finally, if there is no data associated with your article then you still need to include a data access statement explaining this to be compliant. Some examples might be: –
“All data is provided in full in the results section of this paper.”
“No new data was created during this study.”
If you are a Cardiff University researcher or post graduate research student there is more guidance on data access statements and ways to share data on the staff and student intranets: