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Research data management

The National Health and Medical Research Council

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) consolidates within a single national organisation the often independent functions of research funding and development of advice. They are a signatory to the Wellcome Data Sharing and Management Policy, summarised below.

Sharing research data to improve public health: statement by funders of health research

The importance of data sharing in advancing health is becoming increasingly widely recognised.

In some research fields data sharing is well-established and has accelerated the progress of research and its application for the public good. In public health research, however, the sharing of data is not yet the norm.

We believe that making research data sets available beyond the original research will have three key benefits:

  • faster progress in improving health
  • better value for money
  • higher quality science.

This Statement establishes guiding principles and desired goals. It recognises that flexibility and a variety of approaches will be needed in order to balance the rights of the individuals and communities that contribute data, the investigators that design research and collect and analyse data, and the wider scientific community that might productively use data for further research.

The joint statement of purpose

Vision
We, as funders of health research, intend to work together to increase the availability to the scientific community of the research data we fund that is collected from populations for the purpose of health research, and to promote the efficient use of those data to accelerate improvements in public health.

Principles
Funders agree to promote greater access to and use of data in ways that are:

  • Equitable: Any approach to the sharing of data should recognise and balance the needs of researchers who generate and use data, other analysts who might want to reuse those data, and communities and funders who expect health benefits to arise from research.
  • Ethical: All data sharing should protect the privacy of individuals and the dignity of communities, while simultaneously respecting the imperative to improve public health through the most productive use of data.
  • Efficient: Any approach to data sharing should improve the quality and value of research and increase its contribution to improving public health. Approaches should be proportionate and build on existing practice and reduce unnecessary duplication and competition.

Goals

Immediate goals

  • Data management standards support data sharing

  • Data sharing is recognized as a professional achievement
  • Secondary data users respect the rights of producers and add value to the data they use

Longer-term aspirations

  • Well documented data sets are available for secondary analysis
  • Capacity to manage and analyse data is strengthened
  • Published work and data are linked and archived
  • Data sharing is sustainably resourced for the long term

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