Developing a research data policy framework for all journals and publishers

As part of the Data Policy Standardisation and Implementation Interest Group (IG) of the Research Data Alliance (RDA), Jisc has been working on journal research data policies in order to promote open data sharing and good data practice.

On 21 February 2020, an article was published detailing the outcome of the group’s work: Developing a research data policy framework for all journals and publishers (Iain Hrynaszkiewicz​​, Natasha Simons​, Azhar Hussain​, Rebecca Grant and Simon Goudie). This Interest Group (IG) is chaired by Iain Hrynaszkiewicz from PLOS and co-chaired by Natasha Simons from ARDC, Azhar Hussain from Jisc, Simon Goudie from Wiley and Rebecca Grant from Springer Nature.

You can also read Iain Hrynaszkiewicz’s blog post: 2020: A turning point for research data policy.

History of Jisc’s work on journal research data policies

In 2012, Jisc funded a project called JoRD (Journal Research Data Policy Bank). JoRD was designed to investigate the possibility of setting up a service to collate the policies of journals with respect to depositing the data underlying published articles. The project team searched and recorded the contents of the research data sharing policies of 371 journals. They then tried to assemble a model data policy that represented the accumulated information that these various policies contained. The model policy was subsequently re-worked in consultation with various stakeholders – as it became clear that the existing policy landscape would not provide an adequate model. The project concluded by publishing new recommendations to influence the field instead of charting the then current and at times confusing mass of journal policies (Research data sharing: Developing a stakeholder‐driven model for journal policies).

In 2015, Jisc did some scoping work looking into the development of a proposed Journal Research Data Policy Registry (JRDPR). The intention at that point was to use iterative agile methodologies to work up a minimum viable product to store these policies. It was later noted that there was a lack of common definitions of terms used in policies, so the data mapping was becoming a semantic exercise based on the individual interpretations of the team members reading the policies. There was also found to be much variation across research communities and subjects concerning data sharing. The intention therefore became one of looking at providing advice, checklists and templates rather than a registry service. Naughton and Kernohan (2016) document this journey in their article Making sense of journal research data policies.

Current work on the research data policy landscape

Since, then Jisc has continued to work with the Research Data Alliance (RDA). The RDA was launched in 2013 as a ‘neutral social platform’ with a mission to build ‘the social and technical bridges that enable open sharing and re-use of data’. The RDA references Naughton and Kernohan’s article in the Introduction to the Data Policy Standardisation and Implementation Interest Group.

The new article

The recently published article – Developing a research data policy framework for all journals and publishers – represents the results of a two year consultation in the field. The policy framework is designed to be comprehensive and yet flexible in that it can be ‘adopted by and aligns with the policy requirements of all scholarly journals and publishers’. The policy framework defines 14 features and details why each one has been included within the framework [i.e. definition of research data, definition of exceptions, embargoes, supplementary materials, data repositories, data citation, data licensing, researcher/author support, data availability statements (DASs), data formats and standards, mandatory data sharing (specific papers) – to support the standards of specific research communities and journals, mandatory data sharing (all papers), peer review of data, Data Management Plans (DMPs)]. These 14 policy features have been further arranged within 6 policy types or tiers (Policy 01 to Policy 06), so that there are ‘more features and requirements as one moves from policy one through to six’. It is noted that some publishers are already operating their policies in a similar way (e.g. Taylor & Francis, Wiley).


From 2020 onwards, the focus of the RDA’s Data Policy Standardisation and Implementation Interest Group (IG) is on the implementation, adoption and socialisation of this framework. The article notes that measures of success for the IG’s research data policy framework can also start to be assessed, beginning with the numbers of journals and publishers who start adopting or re-aligning to the framework, and in the longer term assessing the increased levels of data sharing and re-use that arise as a result.

Azhar Hussain and Melanie Heeley

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