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Tasks and Structure

The German Data Forum (RatSWD, Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten) is an independent council of empirical researchers from universities, university-level institutions, and institutions of independent scientific research as well as representatives from important data producers in Germany. It was established by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2004 with the goal of sustainably improving the research data infrastructure and its international competitiveness.


The German Data Forum’s overarching goal is to improve access to high-quality data for scientific research, particularly in the social, behavioral, and economics sciences. It has established itself as an institutionalized place of exchange between research data users, i.e. science and research, and data producers and aims at striking a balance between their respective interests.  The RatSWD advances the strategic development of the German research landscape through nationwide coordination and recommendations. It also plays a key role in initiating and establishing standards for the collection, storage, provision, and quality of research data.

The German Data Forum consists of 8 members from the empirical social, behavioral, and economic sciences, and 8 members from data production. It continously invites experts from science, data production, and policy to assess the status quo and develop strategic recommendations on improving scientific data access. Representatives from the federal government and the state governments of the Länder as well as the German Research Foundation have a permanent special guest status. The German Data Forum sets up topical working groups to define action priorities and address current issues.