Research data policy

Data are the main assets of economic and social research. We recognise publicly-funded research data as valuable, long-term resources that, where practical, must be made available for secondary scientific research.

Principles of the policy

Our Research Data Policy is based on the principle that publicly-funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest and, therefore, should be openly available to a maximum extent possible.

We are committed to long-term preservation, high quality data management and strengthening the provision for secondary data analysis.

Purpose of the policy

We expect grant holders to generate scientifically robust data ready for further re-use. This policy aims to support grant holders who collect, produce and re-use data, by defining the roles and responsibilities of researchers, ESRC and its data service providers.

The document covers the general principles and policy statements on data access and sharing, including expectations on data quality and management which we expect ESRC grant holders to adhere to.

Key contents of the policy

While we strongly advocate further re-use of data, we also recognise that some research data are more sensitive than others, and believe that it is the responsibility of the grant holder to consider all issues related to confidentiality, ethics, security and copyright before initiating the research.

Further guidance on key issues related to research data, such as copyright and confidentiality, security and ethical considerations are given in the policy.

It is the grant holder’s responsibility to incorporate data management as an integral part of the research project.

The data must be made available for re-use or archiving with the ESRC data service providers within three months of the end of the grant.

Data management plan

We believe that a structured approach to data management results in better quality data that is ready to deposit for further sharing.

ESRC applicants who plan to generate data from their research must submit a data management plan as part of their Je-S application.

Applicants should refer to our Research Data Policy as well as our Research Funding Guide.

These changes will not affect applications submitted before 19 April 2011. However, we encourage all investments generating data to introduce a robust data management plan, if one is not already in place.

Further information

Comments or enquiries about our Research Data Policy should be emailed to