FSD’s Data Management Policy

FSD’s DMP is outlined in accordance with the Data Management Policy for Open Research Infrastructures at Tampere University.

Principle 1Standard codes of conduct and ethical guidelines are followed.

Following research ethics and ensuring compliance with the law are fundamental necessities for us to maintain the trust of the research community. Researchers and data producers can deposit and share their data not only FAIRly but also responsibly, safely and reliably.

The Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK) guides the Finnish research community with its official ethical guidelines. Our General Terms and Conditions for Data Use require that data users follow the ethical guidelines drawn up by the National Advisory Board on Research Integrity, and users agree not to compromise the confidentiality and privacy of individuals or bodies connected to the data when using the data or publishing results obtained from the data.

Principle 2Research infrastructure complies with national and international law, such as GDPR, and other agreements.

We ensure that the materials can be archived in compliance with the law, particularly as regards intellectual property rights and the protection of privacy. If data are collected from or about natural persons, we check compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We ask researchers to anonymise their data before deposit.

Before data transfer to FSD, we sign with the depositor (the researcher) an agreement on personal data processing. The agreement ensures the statutory requirements for the data transfer in compliance with the GDPR. It is regular practice to have such an agreement as quite often deposited datasets still contain such specific indirect identifiers that we deem them to contain personal data. Since the depositor is the controller of the archived data, we always ask the depositor’s consent for any further anonymisation we carry out.

Our data processing personnel ensure that the data produced for long-term preservation are no longer identifiable or sensitive, regardless of the subject matter of the data. Anonymisation plans are created and carried out for each dataset on a case-by-case basis (Data Management Guidelines: Anonymisation of quantitative data & Anonymisation of qualitative data).

If a researcher wishes to archive research data with identifiers, we help the researcher to assess compliance with the GDPR and the Finnish Data Protection Act. The most useful option is to apply Article 85 of the GDPR and provisions based on it in Section 27 of the Data protection Act (Processing of personal data for journalistic purposes or the purposes of academic, artistic or literary expression).

Principle 3Possible intellectual property rights (IPR) involved with the data managed or produced by the infrastructure are known.

FSD does not ingest data that have unresolved rights issues or any intellectual property rights problems. In case the research data are copyright-protected by research subjects, FSD’s Data Management Guidelines help the depositors to formulate appropriate agreements on the transfer of rights to enable the archiving and re-use of such data (Data Management Guidelines: Agreement concerning the transfer of rights).

The Finnish Copyright Act does not recognise the copyright exception for research, which means that it is not allowed to archive and disseminate copyrighted material collected by researchers for research purposes without a separate licence agreement or permission from the author. Due to this, FSD and Finnish copyright society Kopiosto signed an agreement in 2015 that allows us to archive and disseminate for reuse certain digital or digitised works analysed in research, namely works belonging to the fields of rightsholder organisations represented by Kopiosto (for instance, magazine articles, photographs, illustrations and comics). Audiovisual works and musical compositions are not covered by the agreement.

Principle 4Necessary agreements on the ownership and rights of use of the data are made.

The depositor of the research data consents to the archiving and dissemination of the dataset for reuse in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed upon in the deposition agreement PDF . In all other respects, the original creators of the data retain the copyright and related intellectual property rights to the data. We are responsible for providing access to the data and long-term preservation as well as for managing delivery of the data for reuse purposes in accordance with deposition agreement and data protection regulations and requirements.

Principle 5The widest dissemination and publicity for data managed or produced by the infrastructure are ensured. Therefore, when possible, open licenses should be used to make data and metadata easily and freely accessible.

We open all our metadata under CC By 4.0 license. On Aila Data Service, all users can search, browse and study data descriptions, codebooks, variables and their frequencies and summary statistics. Data files for detailed analyses are available 24/7 through Aila Data Service, free of charge, in accordance with access conditions set for each dataset.

Committing to FAIR principles, all metadata can be accessed in machine readable formats in Aila, e.g. DDI 2.0. We maintain a separate OAI-PMH server (KUHA) to enable harvesting our metadata to different catalogues. In addition to Aila, FSD’s metadata can be found in Etsin Finna and CESSDA catalogues.

Principle 6Standardised metadata production is supported with guidance and tools.

We provide guidance for data documentation and metadata in our Data Management Guidelines. Aila contains an online data deposit tool which allows depositors to transfer their data files, data descriptions and other materials to FSD using a secured connection (Step-by-step instructions for depositing).

We describe all archived research data using the DDI Codebook standard. DDI (Data Documentation Initiative) is an international standard for describing data produced by surveys and other observational methods in the social, behavioural, economic, and health sciences. DDI employs XML structures.

We use several thesauri and controlled vocabularies: Field of study classification by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, CESSDA Topics Classification, General Finnish Ontology YSO for study descriptions in Finnish and ELSST thesaurus for study descriptions in English. In addition, we use controlled vocabularies developed by the DDI Alliance to describe the type of sampling procedure, mode of collection, time method, instrument and analysis unit used in the study.

Principle 7Users are instructed to acknowledge the contribution of the infrastructure in their research outputs.

Respecting and citing the achievements of other researchers appropriately is a cornerstone of the responsible conduct of research. The users of data archived at FSD commit to citing the data and its original creators in the General Terms and Conditions for Data Use. We prepare a model citation for each dataset to make citing as easy as possible to users.

Registered Aila users commit to notifying FSD about any publications based on the archived data, and we list the publications based on the data in the Aila dataset description. Researchers may also request an annual report on the use of their data in publications.

Principle 8Persistent identifiers (PID) are supported.

We assign persistent URN identifiers (PIDs) to all archived data in compliance with documented standards. Persistent identifiers ensure that data can be found even if they were transferred to a new location for some reason. A clear PID policy is part of our commitment to FAIR principles.

Principle 9Quality control procedures are described clearly and explained for users.

Our data processing personnel examine all deposited data thoroughly. Any alterations to data are documented. Variables in quantitative data are checked against the questionnaire (or other research instrument), and missing data are reviewed. Detailed information on the contents of the variables and their values is added. Variable and value labels are constructed based on the questionnaire. Qualitative data are carefully reviewed to ensure that no identifiers are left in the data. We name documents systematically and check the consistency of internal metadata (file naming, labelling). All data files are converted to formats suitable for reuse and long-term preservation (see Digital File Formats Used at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive for Different Types of Data).

For systematic quality assessment, data processing personnel follow our strict internal guidelines, do cross-checking for data, and periodically conduct residual risk assessment to verify the robustness of the anonymisation (Quality, Assessment and Development at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive).

Principle 10The infrastructure has an access policy which defines how it supports access to services. Conditions for access are also clarified.

Data curated and disseminated by FSD have four access categories which are clearly explained for every dataset.

  • Category A data are openly available for all Aila users.
  • Category B data are available for research teaching and study with Aila registration.
  • Category C data are available for research only with Aila registration.
  • Category D data are available only by permission from the data depositor/creator with Aila registration.

Principle 11The infrastructure is built using open interfaces and standards to ensure interoperability with other national and international infrastructures and processes.

Committing to the FAIR principles, all metadata can be accessed in machine readable formats in Aila. We maintain a separate OAI-PMH server to enable harvesting our metadata to different international catalogues. (FSD metadata records in machine readable formats.)

FSD develops best practices, processes, tools and software that help research data collection, processing, management and long-term preservation. When possible we create open source software and make it available on our website Open source software by FSD

Principle 12The impact and relevance of the infrastructure are (self-)evaluated regularly. Research infrastructure should be easy to use, and statistics and metrics should be freely available to measure usage.

We publish an annual report which includes basic statistics about our services and detailed numbers on e.g. data acquisition and website use. In addition, FSD’s annual “data balance sheet” reports describe the status of data processing and assess the privacy and data security risks, and measures taken.

As part of Tampere University quality management, we regularly conduct a self-assessment of our performance based on the Common Assessment Framework (CAF). In addition, we assess our services with the help of user feedback surveys, other feedback received from users, and reports produced from the internal database.

When we apply for research infrastructure funding from the Academy of Finland and when Finland’s strategy and roadmap for research infrastructures is being updated, an international board evaluates our development plans and their progress.

Principle 13When developing research infrastructures, commitment to openness, sharing of ideas, sustainable development, fairness and equality should be demonstrated, when applicable.

FSD has implemented and advocated open science culture for 20+ years, and our current strategy emphasises responsible open science. We have adopted the ‘FAIR + open’ approach. FSD is a CoreTrustSeal-certified trusted repository.

Equality is one of the basic principles in our customer services. We give online and personal information services concerning research data for everyone irrespective of the age or gender, regardless of which country the customer is from. Researchers and students from any research and educational organisation all around the world can register to Aila and access archived research data. FSD’s data translation services (Finnish quantitative data into English) are free of charge for customers and depositors.

FSD contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals by acquiring, curating and offering datasets to re-users so that they can conduct research on topics supporting sustainable development (cf. study topic classifications).

The merger of two Universities in Tampere in 2019 has been an opportunity for us to tap closer into the host organisation Tampere University’s HR, financial, and IT services and other support infrastructure. In 2020, FSD’s servers were transferred to a data centre hosted by the University, which in addition to improving the resilience and durability of FSD’s technical infrastructure, saves a significant amount of energy (ca. 80 % reduction) and thus decreases our carbon footprint. We encourage remote participation in international projects to decrease the carbon footprint of flying. Since Finland is far from everywhere, our personnel have attended remotely for years in international meetings whenever it has been possible.

Principle 14Interaction and innovation activities with business, industry, public services and citizens are promoted.

Cooperation with industry and private enterprises is not in our focus, but we collaborate with data collecting organisations like Taloustutkimus and Kantar TNS Finland in data acquisition.

We have also developed services that help understanding the data. Tietomilli is a public opinion online survey data service for citizen science. It allows anyone from school children to political decisionmakers easily analyse survey data collected in Finnish public opinion polls. Using Tietomilli does not require statistical software skills.

We have an increasing number of data that are available to all users without restrictions. For category A data we welcome users from everywhere, no matter if the user is from public or private sector or an ordinary citizen that is interested in research data. The same applies to the rich metadata available on Aila for everyone.