NERC Data Policy
The NERC Data Policy details our commitment to support the long-term management of environmental data and also outlines the roles and responsibilities of all those involved in collecting and managing environmental data. The NERC data centres provide support and guidance in data management to those funded by NERC, are responsible for the long-term management of data and provide access to NERC's holdings of environmental data.
We have created our data policy to be consistent with legal frameworks, such as the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the INSPIRE Regulations 2009 and contractual arrangements with other bodies where, for example, NERC holds data on their behalf but does not own the intellectual property rights.
To reflect NERC's continuing commitment to openness and transparency in the research process, and in support of the government's developing agenda on open access to public data, the NERC Data Policy has been substantially revised, and this new version of NERC's Data Policy came into force in January 2011.
Key items within the new Data Policy
There are a number of significant changes in the new Data Policy, compared to the previous version.
The policy covers environmental data acquired, assembled or created through research, survey and monitoring activities that are either fully or partially funded by NERC. It also applies to environmental data managed by NERC where NERC was not the original funder. At the heart of the policy is a clear definition of environmental data - placing the government's concept of public data in a scientific context.
All environmental data held by the NERC data centres will be made freely available without any restrictions on use - except for a limited number of data sets where third party rights require NERC to restrict access or to levy charges, or for large or complex requests, where NERC may charge for the cost of supplying the data.
The policy introduces a formal requirement for all applications for NERC funding to include outline data management plans, which will be evaluated as part of the standard NERC grant assessment process. This brings NERC into line with similar requirements from MRC and BBSRC, and the requirement for a data management plan announced by the National Science Foundation . All successful applicants for funding will be required to produce a full data management plan, in conjunction with the relevant NERC data centre.
There is a clear definition of how long researchers will be entitled to exclusive access to the data they generate. This 'right of first use' will normally be two years from the end of data collection.
The policy introduces the concept of the NERC 'Data Value Checklist'. This is a set of criteria which will be used to identify environmental data of long-term value, and will inform all decisions that the NERC data centres make on the acquisition and disposal of environmental data.
The policy includes a clear statement on the need for openness and access to the data that underpin research publications. It also introduces a new requirement that all research publications arising from NERC funding must include a statement on how the supporting data and any other relevant research materials can be accessed.
The policy came into force in January 2011; however, the requirement for data management plans will not be implemented until June 2012, to allow NERC time to implement new grant application and review processes fully as part of the migration of grant processing to the RCUK Shared Services Centre.
There is a set of guidance notes to help explain and support the data policy.
The previous NERC Data Policy (version February 2010), was in force until the end of December 2010.
Guidance is available for the Outline Data Management Plans which should accompany all NERC grant and fellowship proposals from 1 August 2012, and the full Data Management Plans which should be produced by award holders within three months of the start of their awards. more about Data Management Plans