Appraise & Select

Working with research data is a responsible task. This is particularly true for social, behavioral, educational, and economic sciences, where people are often the subject of research, and thus sensitive personal data form the core of research. Various ethical principles can come into conflict with each other, as we present to you in the article on research ethics.

Legal requirements, such as data protection and copyright laws, also play a crucial role in research data management for data curators, regulating the handling of research data at the EU, national, or regional level. One of the main tasks of data managers is not only to be aware of these aspects, but also to actively work on their compliance, to identify risks and violations, and to develop procedures for adhering to these principles within their institutions.

For the appraisal & selection of the research data that the researchers have submitted to your research data center, the aspects of fundamental data protection and the associated assessment of the need for the original data providers’ informed consent (e.g. study participants or survey respondents), play a significant role. This is closely related to questions regarding the copyright of research data.

Data Protection

In the section ‘What Are Particularly Sensitive Data,’ we have already touched on the legal foundations.

According to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), sensitive personal data should not be processed or published without the explicit informed consent of the individuals concerned. Therefore, having a properly formulated informed consent is particularly important for research data management. However, even if this is not the case, there are ways to enable data processing, such as anonymization and pseudonymization.

The following video provides an initial overview of key topics related to data protection in research and the GDPR:

The type of data that can or should be provided for reuse by the RDC is determined in consultation with the data provider. Legal and ethical aspects, such as informed consent, must also be considered. Informed consent refers to the consent given by study participants (e.g., in a survey or data collection) before the actual data collection takes place.

Informed consent includes a clear and transparent explanation of the purpose of the data’s use. Participants must be informed about what will happen to their data and must agree to participate based on this information. Obtaining informed consent before data collection is crucial because the archiving of personally identifiable data is only possible with the consent of the participants. However, informed consent often only covers the consent for data to be shared for scientific reuse. A common issue with archiving is that informed consent may include strict wording, such as a clause stating that data will be deleted ten years after the completion of a research project. In such cases, data cannot be published indefinitely.

You can find detailed information and examples of informed consent here: