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‘DataverseNL makes research data FAIR’ - an interview with UG data stewards Christina Elsenga, Tiemen Folkers and Ron Groote Wolthaar

Date:13 November 2021
Author:Leon ter Schure
DataverseNL
DataverseNL

Researchers are increasingly asked to archive and share their research data openly with the world. The Digital Competence Centre (DCC) facilitates this by managing the national data repository DataverseNL. We asked UG data stewards Christina Elsenga, Tiemen Folkers and Ron Groote Wolthaar to tell us more about this service.

What is DataverseNL?

DataverseNL is an online facility for depositing and sharing research data, which may also include software, code and other relevant materials. We offer this service together with other Dutch universities and DANS

There are many good data repositories that researchers may choose from to make their data available. As data stewards, we are happy to give advice on the right repository for your project. It helps that we are aware of the requirements and policies of all UG and UMCG institutes and faculties. DataverseNL is a high-quality and trustworthy alternative that welcomes contributions from all disciplines. 

We notice that DataverseNL is increasingly being used by our researchers. Several research institutes have adopted DataverseNL as their repository of choice. There is a growth in deposited datasets from Groningen of about 30% per year and this month we published the 200th dataset. 

Once a datasets is deposited in DataverseNL, it receives a unique Digital Object Identifier (DOI) which persistently links to your data and enables you to share and cite your dataset. The DOI can for instance be included in a Data Availability Statement that accompanies the published article. There is evidence that this leads to more citations.

How can researchers publish their data on DataverseNL?

This is simple. Log on to DataverseNL with your UG-credentials, then contact us and we will provide you with an empty template to which you can add relevant descriptions (metadata) and files. During the publication process, we also ask you to reflect on questions such as: Is it clear to visitors what your data is about? What makes it of interest to outsiders? Does it include privacy-sensitive materials that deserve special treatment? Or are there patents or commercial interests to take into account? 

Getting familiar with the platform early in your research helps you to get your material and the descriptions ready in time. Also, do not wait until the end of your project with data publications. During your project you can already include materials such as (different versions of) your Research Data Management Plan (RDMP), a blank consent form or a codebook with a technical description of the collected data. You can also generate a temporary private link (URL) that can be submitted to journals to be used during the peer-review process of your publication.

How do data repositories such as DataverseNL contribute to open science?

DataverseNL helps to make research data FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable. This requires more than simply making your data openly available. 

'Findable’ and ‘accessible’ data allows others to validate your research findings, which leads to better science. In DataverseNL this is facilitated by assigning DOIs to datasets and adding rich metadata. The Pure team of the UG Library will furthermore ensure that your dataset is registered in the UG’s research information system and displayed on the UG’s Research Portal

By using standardized ways to organize your data in DataverseNL, you enable the integration with other data (‘interoperability’). Datasets can be placed in a folder structure and there is a direct link to the platform Open Science Framework (OSF). By publishing your dataset you also allow fellow researchers to ‘reuse’ your research results. This saves time and resources because your peers do not have to repeat research that has already been done. If you choose to make your data openly available in DataverseNL you can add an appropriate Creative Commons license. This assures that you get credited for your work and regulates what others can and cannot do with it. 

Can access to data be restricted, for example for privacy concerns? 

Yes. In accordance with the UG’s research data policy we recommend making your data ‘as open as possible and as closed as necessary’. Although we encourage data sharing there can be different reasons to restrict access, for instance because of privacy concerns, copyright, public safety or commercial interests. 

In these cases, researchers may choose to share only part of the dataset, make it available only upon request and/or share the metadata. A great thing about DataverseNL is that researchers themselves decide who gets access to which materials - taking into account, of course, institutional policies, privacy concerns and embargo’s . 

Generally speaking, DataverseNL is not suited for highly sensitive data. The technical and organisational measures implemented in this platform allow for mitigating low and medium risks only. It should not be possible to re-identify participants, for instance in combination with information that is already in the public domain. That type of data should be kept in secure UG storage. If you have any doubts or questions about this, do not hesitate to contact us.  

Relevant links

DataverseNL

UG Digital Competence Centre

UMCG Digital Competence Centre

Tags: open science

About the author

Leon ter Schure

Leon ter Schure is Scholarly Information Specialist at the University of Groningen Library.

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