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Transparent access to sensitive data - the network of research data centres presents itself

Press release, 19.03.2018

The dynamic network of 31 research data centres (RDCs) accredited by the German Data Forum (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, RatSWD) provides science and research with comprehensive access to quality-assured and sensitive data. The annual number of processing requests and publications indicate that the data and services provided by RDCs are in high demand. They also underscore the importance of the research data centres for the social, behavioural and economic sciences. As shown in two new publications by the German Data Forum, the research data infrastructure is highly effective and can serve as a best practice model on a national and international level.

The research data centres (RDCs) accredited by the German Data Forum (RatSWD) provide researchers from the empirical social, behavioural and economic sciences with comprehensive access to sensitive microdata. In doing so, RDCs satisfy the requirements of science and research as well as the requirements of data protection legislation. Moreover, RDCs provide their data users with a wide range of services, including professional support. This infrastructure serves as a best practice model not only for other disciplines on a national level, but also on an international level.

The first RatSWD Output Paper of the 6th appointment period "The German Data Forum (RatSWD) and Research Data Infrastructure: Status Quo and Quality Management" demonstrates the capabilities and the broad scope of the services and data provided by the RDCs – as well as their extensive utilisation. It also reports in detail on the bottom-up governance and quality management of the research data infrastructure. The publication illustrates, for example, how accreditation standards and the continuous monitoring of the RDCs by the Standing Committee of the Research Data Infrastructure (FDI Committee) of the RatSWD contribute to the quality assurance of the infrastructure. The brochure is supplemented by a factsheet that gives a condensed overview of the dynamic network of RDCs and the data they offer.

By issuing both publications in English, the German Data Forum (RatSWD) aims at enhancing the international visibility of its best practice model, a decentralised data access via the RDC network, on the one hand, and the simultaneous implementation of standards for quality assurance, on the other. Both publications are also available in print via the German Data Forum’s business office.

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Established in 2004, the German Data Forum (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, RatSWD) is an independent council. It advises the German federal government and the federal states (Länder) in matters concerning the research data infrastructure for the empirical social, behavioural, and economic sciences. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has 16 members. Membership consists of eight elected representatives of the social, behavioural, and economic sciences and eight appointed representatives of Germany’s most important data producers. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) offers a forum for dialogue between researchers and data producers, who jointly issue recommendations and position papers. The council furthers the development of a research infrastructure that provides researchers with flexible and secure access to a broad range of data. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has accredited 31 research data centres and fosters their interaction and collaboration.