Science is, by its very nature, an open activity. Research results are intended to be publicly assessed and utilised, both within the scientific community and in all other contexts in which research-based knowledge is used.
Open science refers to the mechanisms by which the findability, accessibility and use of scientific knowledge is promoted in the digital era. This encompasses open research outcomes, including:
In addition to the above, open science refers to:
Open science contributes to the reliability and self-correction of science. Open access to research-based knowledge is also key for the societal and global impact of universities.
Academic and scientific publications are articles and papers in academic journals, series, books and conference publications, independent works as well as master’s, licentiate and doctoral theses.
Whenever possible, the University’s guidelines must also be followed when publishing academic monographs.
The University of Helsinki has signed the Finnish declaration for open science and research.
The declaration for open science and research 2020–2025 represents the shared goals and recommendations of the Finnish research community for the consolidation of open science. The Finnish research community includes
The declaration includes four areas, for which separate guidelines will be drawn up:
By signing the declaration, the University of Helsinki has committed to promoting its goals as part of its strategic work and guidance and to supporting the achievement of the goals in the daily life of University community members.
Openness is one of the overarching themes of the University of Helsinki strategic plan for 2021–2030. Read the strategic plan.
The University’s operations are based on the aim of responding to societal and global information needs. Openly accessible research-based knowledge is an important tool for achieving this goal.
Open science promotes the quality and impact of research, and offers new cooperation opportunities.
Open learning environments and content create new models of learning and support continuous learning.
Open science enables the University to promote the UN’s sustainable development goals, particularly democracy, justice, global responsibility and the general public’s and society’s trust in science.
The University’s own guidelines, according to which research publications and research data produced at the University are, as a rule, made openly available, apply to all members of the University community.
The research data policy expresses the principles and goals that guide research data management at the University of Helsinki. It also describes the services supporting these goals, and defines the mutual responsibilities of different actors. The research data policy applies to all members of the University community. The University of Helsinki’s research data policy has been updated in 2021. You can also download the research data policy as a pdf file from Helda.
Research data are central to science and research. The production of data requires long-term efforts as well as technical and financial resources. In fact, the reusability of research data has become an increasingly important question in terms both of science and research, and of the impact of research.
For the University of Helsinki as well as its units and researchers, research data constitute a strategic resource and an international competitive factor. The goal of the University is to promote responsible research data management, which is of crucial significance for the findability, accessibility and reuse of research-based knowledge (for the definition of ‘research data’ and ‘research data management’, see the glossary).
The principles of open science and open research data play a prominent role in the strategic plan of the University of Helsinki for 2021–2030. The University’s strategic goals include open research infrastructures and open research data, the implementation of the FAIR Principles in research data management, and the advancement of competencies in the analysis of large and open datasets.
A key goal of the research data policy is to guide everyone involved in research data management to familiarise themselves with current data management requirements as well as to adopt good and responsible practices as part of everyday research activities. Another goal is to make research data management increasingly clear for individual researchers.
From an organisational perspective, the research data policy describes the goals that guide the development of research data services at the University of Helsinki. The goal is for University of Helsinki researchers to have at their disposal infrastructures and services that enable responsible research data management, developed in an economically sustainable manner while taking researchers’ needs into account.
In terms of its fundamental goals, the new research data policy of the University of Helsinki does not significantly differ from the previous policy published in 2015. The new policy has been amended to comply with current legislation as well as national and international guidelines and recommendations. In contrast to the previous policy, whose more limited scope only encompassed digital data, the new research data policy applies to all research data and related management principles. Another important change is the further clarification and highlighting of responsibilities.
This research data policy covers all research conducted at the University of Helsinki, as well as the research data collected and produced in conjunction with it. This denotes both digital data as well as physical and analogue data, which are all referred to as research data in the research data policy (for the definition of ‘research data’, see the glossary).
The research data policy applies to all members of the University community involved in research, including University employees and students as well as those who conduct research on behalf of the University.
The principles and goals presented in the research data policy supplement other University of Helsinki policies relevant to the management of research data, including the principles of open science, the data protection principles (requires login to Flamma), the information security policy and the guidelines of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity for the responsible conduct of research. The research data policy is also in line with the University’s data management practices and principles.
Policies related to research data management at the University of Helsinki are guided primarily by EU and Finnish law. By employing policies and guidelines, the University strives to ensure the legality of research activities. In international research and other cooperation, research data management can also be regulated by legislation outside the European Union.
External research funders and partners may also have specific requirements for research data management.
The general objectives for the processing of data stored in University of Helsinki research infrastructures or those on the national or international level are described in the University of Helsinki Research Infrastructure Programme (for the definition of ‘research infrastructure’, see the glossary). In addition, national and international research infrastructures may have their own jointly agreed policies for the processing of the data that they produce. When research infrastructures draw up or update their data management principles, their alignment with the University’s research data policy must be ensured.
Concluding agreements and undertakings is an important part of responsible data management, regardless of the source of research funding. Agreements are always needed when research is conducted in a collaboration or other partnership with external parties, such as other universities, businesses, research organisations and hospital districts. Agreements help to safeguard the interests of researchers and the University of Helsinki, manage risks related to research and ensure the legality of activities.
Research agreements must be concluded as early as possible, preferably before the collection or use of research data commences. Agreements are used to ensure that the research data collaboratively collected by research groups is available to all of the participating researchers. Agreements safeguard the continuity of research and the further use of research data, for example, after the conclusion of research projects.
Many international and national research funders require that the research data and findings that they have funded are open access. Obligations imposed by funders on researchers and the University make it necessary to transfer rights to research data to the extent necessary to fulfil the funding terms. In addition, the sharing of rights is needed, for example, to enable the opening, further use and archiving of research data. As a rule, researchers retain a concurrent right that enables them to continue using the research data.
The rights related to research data and their sharing should be agreed when researchers’ employment at the University begins.
Agreeing on the rights related to research data is in line with legislation and the responsible conduct of research. Instead of altering researchers’ responsibilities in the management of their research datasets, such agreements are part of it. Sharing rights does not alter researchers’ right to be referred to as the collectors or producers of the research data in question.
This document supersedes the current University of Helsinki research data policy that was approved in 2015. An implementation plan for the updated data policy will be drawn up in 2022.
The implementation of the research data policy will be monitored by carrying out assessments at regular intervals, the first in 2023.
The research data policy will be updated by 2025.
Below, the principles and goals for responsible research data management are described in relation to the lifespan of research projects, beginning from the planning of data management and ending in the long-term preservation or destruction of data. The potential for the further use of data must be taken into consideration during research projects.
In general, the responsible management of research data is guided by the FAIR Principles, according to which research data must be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (for the definition of the ‘FAIR Principles’, see the glossary). Another guiding principle pertains to the openness of research data: as open as possible, as closed as necessary.
Data archive (data repository)
A virtual, typically discipline-specific archive or database where researchers can transfer their research data for sharing, reporting and reuse. Data repositories store research data, make it available and organise it in a logical manner. Data repositories also make it easier to cite research data through the use of persistent identifiers.
Data management plan
A document that describes the research data that will be acquired or produced in the research project, commonly abbreviated as DMP. In connection with data management plans, the term ‘data’ is understood in broad terms, meaning that it encompasses all of the data and resources on which the research results are based. The plan also encompasses codes, software and other methodological descriptions.
In addition, the plan describes how rights related to research data are managed, which agreements are needed, how data protection is ensured, how research data are stored, how research data are opened, or how their findability and use for the verification of the research results and further research is otherwise enabled. While the data management plan is drawn up at the planning stage, it is a living document that must be updated as the research project progresses.
European principles for the quality of research data and associated metadata. The acronym FAIR stands for findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. The FAIR Principles guide the drawing up of metadata in particular. Findable means that research data has a unique persistent identifier that functions as a link to the data that can always be found even if the storage location changes. Findability can also be implemented for non-digital research data whose metadata are openly available. Accessible means that research data and the associated metadata are accessible via web browsers. Interoperable means that data are stored using open file formats and common standards. Reusable means that research data has rich metadata and a licence that specifies the terms of reuse.
Information security incident
An event or circumstances that diverge from normal, which may, for example, delay, prevent or harm the conduct of research. The nature of such incidents varies by research field.
Information security incident related to data protection refer to circumstances due to which research data are destroyed, lost, altered or disclosed without authorisation, or due to which an unauthorised party gains access to the data.
The preservation of digital data in understandable and usable form for dozens or even hundreds of years. Long-term preservation is designed for valuable research data. The goal of long-term preservation is to ensure the accessibility, authenticity, understandability and completeness of digital objects, also regardless of the eventual obsolescence of or changes to hardware, software and file formats. Long-term preservation ensures the long-term availability of research data.
Metadata is data about data. There are several types of metadata, including descriptive, structural, administrative, statistical and legal as well as reference and citation metadata. Metadata ensures the findability and reusability of research data. When research data is described and documented appropriately, other users can trace and understand specific elements of research. Metadata makes it easier to search for and find research data stored in data repositories.
A unique and unambiguous, machine-readable name for research output, commonly abbreviated as PID. Identifiers constitute permanent links that always lead to, for example, publications or metadata pages associated with research data. Persistent identifiers enable the long-term findability of digital research data.
Any data that can be linked to living natural persons, that is, data associated with or linkable to an identified or identifiable person. Any data that can be used to indirectly identify a person, for example, by linking a specific detail to another detail that would enable identification (pseudonymised personal data) also constitute personal data. Personal data can be stored in, for example, digital files and databases, on paper, in card indexes, in document files and survey forms, or in audio or video recordings.
According to data protection regulation, specific personal data constitute what is known as special categories of personal data, or sensitive personal data (see also ‘sensitive and confidential data’):
In addition to the data above, the processing of personal data can be sensitive if the processing may pose risks to the data subjects (see ‘risk management’).
Data that have been collected, observed, measured or created to verify research results, or that are otherwise considered necessary in the research community for the confirmation of results. The context turns data into research data. Any data can become research data when it is analysed for research purposes.
Research data can include measurement results, test results, survey results, audio and video recordings as well as samples and specimens. While research data is often in digital form, it can also include physical or analogue data. Research data can be raw data, processed data, data in the possession of a third party, shared data or published data. The degree of openness of research data varies from confidential and sensitive data to open data.
Research data infrastructure
Processes, technical solutions and services through which research data management is carried out in practice. Research data infrastructures involve organisation, an operating culture and long-term social networks that enable the realisation of technical and administrative solutions and services.
Research data management
Commonly referred to using the abbreviation RDM. A process encompassing the lifespan of the research project that includes the collection or acquisition, organisation, curation, storage, (long-term) preservation, protection, quality assurance, licensing and distribution of research data as well as the use of persistent identifiers and other metadata in compliance with the rules and procedures of the relevant discipline (European Commission/Horizon Europe).
Research infrastructures are instruments, equipment, information networks, databases, materials and services that serve to facilitate research, promote research collaboration and reinforce research and innovation capacity and know-how (Academy of Finland).
Proactive anticipation of events that have negative consequences. Risk management constitutes coordinated activities used to guide, manage and monitor the actions of the University, its units or individual researchers in relation to risks. The purpose of risk management is to help the University, its units and researchers to attain their goals and make decisions.
When processing personal data (see the definition of ‘personal data’), the risks associated with the processing must be assessed while ensuring the implementation of the relevant data protection principles. In the case of personal data, the risk assessment must be carried out from the perspective of data subjects.
Sensitive and confidential data
Research data whose storage, use and sharing are restricted on ethical, legal, contractual or commercial grounds. Such data must be processed and protected with particular care.
Sensitive data are associated with, for example, specific personal data (see special categories of personal data in the definition of ‘personal data’), endangered species, biosecurity or national defence. Confidential information on patents and trade secrets are also to be protected, and their exposure can result in claims for damages.
Each year, the University of Helsinki presents the Open Science Award in recognition of significant work to promote open science. The aim of this award is to highlight active open science advocates and increase information on good practices at the University.
Recipients of the award have included individual researchers and teachers, projects and units.
2018: Professor Jaana Bäck
2017: Professor Tuuli Toivonen (in Finnish only)