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University Groups Detail Recommendations for Ensuring Public Access to Research Data

Washington, DC—The Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today released a report that details principles and recommended actions universities and federal agencies can take to advance timely access to data from federally-sponsored research grants.

The report, produced by a working group of research university leaders that AAU and APLU convened, details steps federal agencies can take to facilitate public access to research data in a viable and sustainable manner that advances science in the public interest while minimizing the administrative burden on agencies, universities, and researchers. The report also contains actions universities should take both collectively and individually to align with the goals of research data sharing.

“Ensuring that research data are more accessible clearly has tremendous potential to fuel scientific analysis and discovery by making data more open to scrutiny, re-analysis, and extension,” states the report. It goes on, “…by committing to a set of shared principles and minimal levels of standardization across institutions and agencies, we can help minimize costs, enhance interoperability between institutions and disciplines, and maximize the control institutions can exert over how they ensure access to publicly funded scholarship.”

“To advance U.S. science and fully capitalize on the research partnership between the federal government and universities, it is important that both entities develop a set of uniform standards, sound policies, and well-developed plans to maximize access to scientific data generated with federal support. The working group’s recommendations lay the groundwork for helping to accomplish this goal,” said AAU President Mary Sue Coleman.

“We must ensure that data from federally-sponsored research is publicly accessible in a timely fashion, and to do that we must create a system and establish a set of principles that won’t turn data sharing into a bueracratic nightmare,” said APLU President Peter McPherson.

Lisa Lynch, Provost at Brandeis University and Sarah Nusser, Vice President for Research at Iowa State University co-chaired the AAU-APLU Public Access Working Group. Other members of the working group included provosts, vice presidents for research, chief information officers, library representatives, and compliance officers from AAU and APLU universities. The report also contains data management resources to provide universities with the information, tools, and additional guidance for making data publicly available. The associations will continue to support efforts related to the report and are discussing holding a series of future discussions and workshops with representatives from their campuses to advance its specific goals and recommendations.

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