Open Research Data
Research data should be freely accessible to everyone – for scientists as well as for the general public.
The SNSF agrees with this principle. Since October 2017, researchers have to include a data management plan (DMP) in their funding application for most of the funding schemes. At the same time, the SNSF expects that data generated by funded projects are publicly accessible in digital databases provided there are no legal, ethical, copyright or other issues.
Please consult the webpages of the different funding schemes to see whether a DMP is required when submitting an application.
SNSF policy on Open Research Data
“Research data are the evidence that underpins the answer to the research question, and can be used to validate findings regardless of its form (e.g. print, digital, or physical).”
Concordat on Open Research Data, published on 28 July 2016
The SNSF values research data sharing as a fundamental contribution to the impact, transparency and reproducibility of scientific research. In addition to being carefully curated and stored, the SNSF believes research data should be shared as openly as possible.
The SNSF therefore expects all its funded researchers
- to store the research data they have worked on and produced during the course of their research work,
- to share these data with other researchers, unless they are bound by legal, ethical, copyright, confidentiality or other clauses, and
- to deposit their data and metadata onto existing public repositories in formats that anyone can find, access and reuse without restriction.
Research data is collected, observed or generated factual material that is commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to document and validate research findings.
Guidelines and Regulations
SNSF guidelines for researchers
The SNSF has elaborated guidelines for researchers concerning the Data Management Plans (DMPs).
The regulations related to the SNSF policy on Open Research Data can be found in the Funding Regulations and in the General Implementation Regulations.
Data repositories and FAIR principles
Finding the "perfect" repository providing all necessary features to host FAIR data is challenging. To make the transition towards FAIR research data easier, the SNSF decided to fix a set of minimal criteria that repositories have to fulfil to conform with the FAIR data principles.
FAIR Data Principles
FAIR is a set of guiding principles to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable.
Initiatives and Strategies
National Open Research Data strategy
The SNSF has contributed to the elaboration of the national Open Research Data strategy based on an agreement between SERI, swissuniversities, the two Swiss Federal institutes of technology (EPFL and ETH Zurich) and the SNSF.
This project, funded by swissuniversities, developed a web-based guiding tool which helps researchers to navigate through the most relevant legal questions related to research data management.
Data management monitoring 2017 and 2018
How are researchers implementing the SNSF guidelines? We analysed approx. 1500 applications. The results after two years are encouraging.
Implementation of Science Europe’s recommendations
Science Europe investigated to what extent several member organisations acted on its recommendations on research data management, issued in January 2019. The SNSF contributed to the report.
Landscape and cost analysis of data repositories
This study, jointly commissioned by the SNSF and swissuniversities, examined the data sharing and reuse behaviour of researchers in the Swiss community in 2018.
Science Europe practical guide on RDM
Science Europe has published two sets of recommendations on Research Data Management. As a member of Science Europe, the SNSF supports this initiative.
Science Europe Guidance Document
Science Europe proposes a pragmatic solution for the preparation and control of Data Management Plans (DMPs) through the concept of Data Domain Protocols (DDPs).
OECD Paper on Business Models for Sustainable Research Data Repositories
This document provides a set of recommendations for developing sustainable business models for research data repositories.
CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide
The CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide is intended to help researchers to make their research data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). Although primarily aimed at the social sciences, this guide may be useful for researchers in many disciplines.
Data Management and Sharing Guidelines Issued by UK Data Archives
UK Data Archives have published guidelines for researchers on how to manage and share research data.
re3data.org is the largest and most comprehensive registry of data repositories available on the web. It has grown steadily since its launch four years ago to cover a wide range of disciplines from around the world.
Peer Reviewers’ Openness Initiative
Scientists have launched an initiative to make open research an integral part of publishing data. They have stated that they will not act as reviewers whenever open data sharing is not stated.
In order to give credit to a data set that has been re-used in another paper it needs to be citeable, which calls for persistent identifiers. DataCite is a non-profit organisation that aims to develop and support methods of finding, identifying and citing data.
a) How do I submit my DMP?
The DMP is an integral part of any project funding application. The SNSF platform for submitting proposals, mySNF, provides a specific section for writing a DMP. Applicants cannot submit individually generated DMPs.
Information about the standard contents of the DMPs required by the SNSF can be found on the SNSF webpage for Open Research Data.
b) Will my DMP be evaluated?
No. The DMP does not undergo any scientific evaluation and therefore does not influence the rating of a proposal. Nevertheless, all questions raised in the DMP guidelines have to be addressed precisely and coherently. Missing or inaccurate statements need to be added/revised before the funds for a successful grant application can be transferred. Researchers are requested to update their DMP at the end of the grant.
c) Can I revise my DMP?
Yes. DMPs are dynamic and can be updated on mySNF during the entire funding period. The DMP cannot be modified any longer once the final scientific report has been accepted.
d) Do you have examples for DMPs?
e) Which data need to be shared?
The SNSF expects its funded researchers to share at least all data underlying a publication, meaning that these data have to be directly and freely available and deposited on a FAIR data repository. Shared data must enable other researchers to reproduce the published study.
For more information, please refer to the SNSF guidelines.
f) What does SNSF mean by "data underlying a publication"?
SNSF funded researchers are expected to openly share all data needed to make their publication reproducible. Hence, data presented in a publication has to be shared. Data that is not necessary to reproduce the results presented in a publication does not have to be shared.
g) Can I also share data which has not been published?
Yes. Researchers decide whether they want to share additional data they have worked on and generated in the course of their research work, unless they are subject to legal, ethical, copyright, confidentiality or other constraints.
h) What if I can't share my data?
Some data may be subject to legal, ethical, copyright, confidentiality or other constraints. Such restrictions must be clearly described and justified in the DMP. They will be reviewed by the SNSF Administrative Offices. Embargo periods are only possible under exceptional circumstances and based on the aforementioned constraints.
i) My research is based on confidential or sensitive data. How can I share them?
Sensitive data does not preclude sharing, unless the rights and privacy of the subjects cannot be protected. Before initiating a study, which will generate or include sensitive data, carefully consider the study design, the informed consent documents and the structure of the resulting data. There are repositories that can handle sensitive data.
j) When do I have to share my data?
Researchers funded by the SNSF are expected to make all data underlying a publication publicly accessible on a data repository complying with the FAIR data principles as soon as their publication is available. Many data repositories offer to pre-register and to reserve DOIs for data sets prior to their publication. This allows for the inclusion of the DOIs in the corresponding articles, while at the same time enabling the update of the (meta)data until the publication of the data sets.
k) To which open research data costs does the SNSF contribute?
The SNSF is aware that research data sharing takes time and money. Therefore, it allows applicants to request at the time of submission funding for the preparation of research data in view of its archiving, and to the archiving itself in data repositories complying with the FAIR data principles. However, the SNSF contributes to these archiving costs only on the basis of a one-time payment at the time of data upload on the repository. The SNSF does not cover any subsequent costs. The SNSF may allocate up to CHF 10,000 for these activities. The costs must be charged to a running grant and cannot be covered by a supplementary grant.
l) Does the SNSF contribute to workshops on open research data?
Yes. Research communities that want to discuss best-practices in connection with open research data issues (e.g. how to best write a DMP, which data formats to employ, which repositories are most suitable, etc.) can apply for SNSF support under the new funding scheme "Scientific Exchanges".
m) I have other questions. Who do I contact?
n) In which language has the DMP to be written?
The DMP has to be written in the same language as the research plan.
o) Preservation and long-term storage of research data
The SNSF incorporated the preservation of research data in its policy on Open Research Data. However, the SNSF does not define a specific timeframe, since this can vary between disciplines or research topics. As a general rule, the SNSF recommends to store research data for 10 years.
p) Github as data archiving tool?
Github is a well-suited platform for code sharing but it is not a data archiving tool. Therefore, a copy of the code has to be archived on a data repository. For instance, you can set up a connection between Zenodo and Github to ensure the permanent record of your code and make it citable.
q) Should I revise my DMP at the end of the project grant?
Yes. In any case, researchers are requested to update their DMP at the end of the grant. In this final version, the SNSF expects that the management of the data, which was collected, generated and observed during the course of the project, is described conclusively. If the collection, generation or observation of some data could not yet be completed, this can be specified and explained in the DMP. In any case, the publication of the data on a data repository, which complies with the FAIR Data Principles, must be planned at the end of the project. In case data sharing is not possible, the reasons need to be documented explicitly in the final DMP (e.g. why any identifying information from the data cannot be removed, which ethical or legal agreements would be violated by releasing the data, etc.). The final DMP will be assessed together with the final scientific report. The SNSF Administrative Offices retain the right to request additional information and/or amendments to the contents of the final DMP.
r) What documentation should be made available with the data?
The SNSF expects that all necessary documentation (metadata, code, etc.) and/or other specific tools are made available to facilitate reproducibility of the publication or reuse of the data.