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Tasks and Structure

The German Data Forum (RatSWD, Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten) is an independent council made up of empirical researchers from universities, university-level institutions, and institutions of independent scientific research as well as representatives from important German data producers. It was established by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2004 with the goal of sustainably improving the German research data infrastructure and increasing 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 the users of research data in science and research and research data producers. It plays a significant role as a platform for coordination and cooperation 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 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.