Planning & Funding: Preservation and sharing (3rd party access)

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Within the protocol and funding proposal it is important to include information on arrangements for the preservation and sharing of research data, and to request appropriate funds for data curation and/or archiving. The reasons for this and further information on preservation and sharing are given below.

In 2001 the MRC launched an initiative to promote new and extended use of research data generated by MRC-funded researchers. The focus is on preserving data so that it can be shared and re-used by scientists other than the originating research teams. All scientists applying for MRC funding must now include a strategy for data preservation and sharing in their research proposals. Other public funders have similar requirements. See 1st resource below for guidance on developing a strategy for data preservation and sharing (Data Management Plan).

MRC’s policy is in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report 'Promoting Access to Public Research Data for Scientific, Economic and Social Development', which states that publicly-funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, and that they should be openly available to the maximum extent possible (2nd resource below). Further information on the MRC’s data sharing policy and how the MRC expects grant applicants, MRC Institutes and Units to meet these requirements is provided in the 3rd resource below.

The MRC principles governing data sharing are:

  1. MRC research data are publicly-funded and, as a public good, must be made available for new research purposes in a timely, responsible manner.
  2. Governance of researcher access to MRC-funded research data must balance the interests of data creators, custodians, users and data subjects.
  3. Access policies and practices for individual MRC-funded datasets must be transparent, equitable, practicable and provide clear decisions consistent with MRC data sharing policy.
  4. Access to, and use of, MRC-funded datasets must take account of statutory and other regulatory requirements, and good research practice.

In addition to data sharing, the MRC has also signed up to the UK funders vision for human tissue resources, which aims to maximise the value of human tissue samples and resources and minimise duplication of effort (4th resource).

It is important in the planning stages of a project to ensure that consent is obtained from participants for future sharing of their data and/or tissues with third parties as it can be difficult to go back and obtain this retrospectively.

It may be that researchers wish to collect data and/or tissues for the purposes of sharing and establish a Research Tissue Bank or Research Database. For information on managing access to, and transfer of, data or tissue samples, please visit the following stations: