New NWO and H2020 guidelines for research data

NWO and the European Commission have recently broadened the scope of their data management requirements to all funding instruments and thematic areas. This actually means that open research data will be the standard. Both funders acknowledge however the need for specific projects or data collections to ‘opt out’. Key principle is to be open when possible, to protect when needed.

Research data pilots

The European Commission and NWO conducted open research data pilots for a specific number of funding programs in the last couple of years. They did so in order to increase sustainable access to and re-use of research data, taking into account commercial interests, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), security, privacy and ethical concerns and preservation questions. Projects participating in the pilot answer some questions on the nature and availability of the research data generated in the project in their proposal. After the project is granted, a full data management plan has to be provided.

In April this year, some findings of the Horizon 2020 pilot were presented at the Designing and shaping open science symposium in Amsterdam. It appeared that a majority of the projects in the core areas participated in the pilot (65,4 % of 3699 signed grant agreements). Another 11,9% of projects from other areas chose to opt in on a voluntary basis. It also appeared that for many researchers it was not clear that participating in the pilot doesn’t necessarily mean that all data has to be open, nor that ‘open data’ is always evaluated positively. On the contrary, as Celina Ramjoué, head of the Open Access sector of the European Commission, stated  in her presentation: “in theory, it is possible to be in the ORD Pilot and not open any data!” Project members can decide which data to make openly available and when, as long as they justify their decisions in their data management plans. Main reasons for projects in the H2020 pilot to opt out were, besides not generating data, the protection of IPR and privacy issues.

New guidelines

Now that the first lessons have been learned from the pilot programs, NWO and the European Commission have come up with new guidelines.

All calNWOls for proposals that NWO publishes after 1 October 2016 will contain a data management protocol. The data management protocol consists of two steps: a short section in the proposal that has to be elaborated into a full data management plan within the first four months after the proposal has been awarded funding. The approval of the data management plan is a prerequisite for NWO disbursing the grant. Costs of data management are eligible for funding and should be included in the project budget. NWO has created a template for this plan that matches the (former) guidelines for data management from Horizon 2020 as closely as possible.

NWO Data management protocol

ECThe European Commission embraces the FAIR principles for all thematic areas of H2020 as of 2017: all data derived from EU-funded research projects should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. Therefore a ‘FAIR’ section has been added to  the data management plan template in the new guidelines, focusing especially on the documentation and standards needed to find, understand and reuse the data. The good news is that the plan now applies to projects rather than to individual data sets as it did before. It still is a deliverable required in the first six months after the start of a project. Costs associated with open access to research data can be claimed as eligible costs of any Horizon 2020 grant. The H2020 data management plan template is integrated in the online tool DMPonline.

Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020 [Version 3.0, 26 July 2016]

Data Management Plan Templates

Researchers planning their data management now have several templates to serve them: the NWO template, the H2020 template and the University template (not to mention templates from other institutions and funders like ZonMW). Questions in the templates overlap more or less and it is to be expected that in the near future requirements and templates will be harmonized. In the meantime, we will take the afore-mentioned templates into account in our data management courses.

Further information

Read also this informative blogpost by Sarah Jones (DCC) on the new H2020 guidelines

Open Research Data as the default: Frequently Asked Questions about the extension of the Open Research Data Pilot

Open research Data Pilot: the uptake of the pilot in the first calls of Horizon 2020

European Open Science Cloud

“Connecting data for research”

On Monday 19th October 2015, VU, UvA, Leiden University, Radboud University, DANS and Surf are jointly organizing a symposium ‘Connecting data for research: Good practices for data integration and reuse’.

Much of the data that is used for research is freely available online for reuse. Collecting and sharing of open data becomes even more interesting as technological tools are improving along with an increase in funding incentives. Researchers are often more than willing to enrich open data by combining datasources and instruments for visualization and analysis, but they also have to deal with questions as:


  • How to find the best tool or technique for a specific application in the research process?
  • Which data are available, or not?
  • What is the best way to publish open data?
  • Are there any legal or ethical liabilities?
  • How to judge the quality of the data on offer?

The symposium ‘Connecting data for research’ focuses on good practices for the collecting, structuring, visualizing and sharing of research data.

Mireille van Eechoud, professor of Information Law at the University of Amsterdam, and Barend Mons, professor in Biosemantics at LUMC, Leiden, will share their visions on the challenges and opportunities for sharing open data in the future.

In the break-out sessions, some 20 researchers from a variety of disciplines will highlight the data-bound issues the faced in their research, the solutions that they found, the tools they choose to use, and the reasons why they did so.

The symposium aims to offer opportunity for sharing experiences and ideas; it encourages discussion among researchers, but also with service providers facilitating the field of data driven science.

Programme: (pdf)

The Symposium is open to researchers from all areas of study and all institutions. Registration is free of charge but required through an online registration form.

Date and venue
Monday19th October 2015, 0900-1730 uur

Auditorium VU University, De Boelelaan 1105,  Amsterdam

The symposium ‘Connecting data for research’ is organized by VU, UvA, Leiden University, Radboud University, DANS and Surf. It is made possible by a generous financial contribution from Foster.