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Guidelines for open access to research materials, methods and research infrastructures

Guidelines for open access to research materials, methods and research infrastructures

Anything that researchers create, collect, produce, generate or reuse in research may be considered research data or research materials. Research data and methods are valuable components of the research process. Good research practice requires planning and responsible long-term management of research data.

Research data that arises, is created or is collected by researchers affiliated with Åbo Akademi University should be handled responsibly from project start to end. The research data life cycle includes planning, collection of data/materials, collaboration, analysis, documentation and organisation of data, storage and preservation, sharing and publishing, opening and archiving, as well as (re)use, and citation of research data.

The accessibility of research infrastructures (such as instruments, databases or services), or descriptions of these, facilitates research and promotes collaborative research efforts.

Guidelines for researchers and teachers

  • Researchers at Åbo Akademi University (employed and affiliated) manage their research materials in accordance with current legislation and agreements, ethical principles and good research practice throughout the entire life cycle of the research data.
  • Research materials and methods are stored, recorded, and documented to ensure that the data is available and usable even after the completion of the project, for purposes such as reuse or verification.
  • Research materials are made as openly available as possible, and kept as closed as necessary, aiming to comply with the FAIR principles. The opening of research materials and methods should respect the legal protection for researchers and research participants, as well as take into account potential ethical, legal, and contractual restrictions. The openness of research data follows subject- and discipline-specific conditions, but restrictions to openness should not be justified only by established practice or traditions within a specific field of research.
  • Researchers or research groups write a data management plan (DMP) before starting a project or a study. The DMP serves as a tool for planning responsible management, anticipating risks and complications, and making it easier for researchers to prepare their research material to be as open as possible according to the FAIR principles. Doctoral researchers prepare a DMP for their project before any data collection begins, or within their first year as a doctoral researcher.
  • Research materials are published with an as open a license as possible, or with other predefined user rights for future use. The same principle also applies to research methods that can be shared (source code, software, lab protocols, interview guides, etc.). Open access to research methods is a prerequisite for understanding how results have been derived from the data and how a study has been conducted and analysed.
  • At ÅAU, different degrees of openness are applied to research materials. Researchers decide on a case-by-case basis, considering ethical, legal, and contractual aspects, what degree of openness and access to the research material can be given. The researcher can choose to open only a part of the material, which can either be completely open, or only available for research purposes. For materials that cannot be opened, it is recommended to publish descriptive metadata in a high-quality data repository/archive.
  • Researchers are responsible for providing sufficient metadata for their research data. In the case of very large amounts of data, metadata for materials directly relevant to publications is prioritised.
  • The Heads of Subject are responsible for ensuring that everyone, including supervisors and students, are aware of and adheres to principles of responsible research practices and data management. Each research project has a person responsible for the purpose.

Guidelines for the organisation

  • ÅAU offers and develops infrastructure for storage, archiving, counselling and support to ensure that all ÅAU affiliated have equal opportunities to manage research materials in a responsible way. ÅAU also provides support for students in responsible management of materials/data.
  • ÅAU supports the planning for responsible data management:
    • For writing a data management plan (DMP), Åbo Akademi University recommends a DMP tool that is supported nationally.
    • The Research Data Support arranges courses and support for writing a DMP.
    • The Data Protection Officer offers guidance on the processing of personal data in research and teaching.
  • At ÅAU, digital research data are by default made available and/or archived in reliable and appropriate national or international, general or subject/discipline specific data repositories/archives and services.
  • Successful and responsible data management according to the principles of FAIR and open data, should be acknowledged as a merit in recruitment and career development when appropriate.
  • Research infrastructures associated with ÅAU are as open as possible and adheres to the FAIR principles in their activities to promote collaboration and reuse of data. Research infrastructures maintain a data management policy to ensure that practices align with principles of open and FAIR data.
  • When acquiring and using software, those with open source code are prioritised when possible.

Updated 26.6.2024