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.

Our Research Data Policy, last updated in March 2015, is underpinned by nine core principles which align with the RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy.

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.

All data created or repurposed during the lifetime of an ESRC grant must be made available for re-use or archiving within three months of the end of the grant. Grant holders must provide metadata for resource discovery via the UK Data Service to maximise the discoverability of ESRC data assets. Please contact the UK Data Service for further advice.

Applicants should also refer to:

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. Planning how you will manage your research data should begin early on in the research process and ESRC applicants who plan to generate data from their research must submit a data management plan as part of their Je-S application. We encourage all research grants generating data to introduce a robust data management plan, if one is not already in place.

Further guidance on data management is provided by the UK Data Service.

ESRC-funded PhD Students

Whilst not compulsory, ESRC-funded students are strongly encouraged to offer copies of data created or repurposed during their PhD for deposit at the UK Data Service as it is considered good research practice. Further information can be found in our Postgraduate Funding Guide