FAIR data principle, supported by the EU, states that data should be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”. On the one hand, sharing (a subset of) your data with other researchers and the general public improves transparency and integrity of research, increases possibilities of reuse, and is sometimes mandatory (Funders, Journal policy). On the other hand, some data cannot be shared (personal data, commercial or political potential, etc.).

1. How to select data

Look at your consortium agreement, patent, funder contract or other contract to see whether you have to keep or destroy certain data. If you use personal data, you should also comply with RGPD. According to RGPD: personal data can only be preserved for the time necessary to reach the original goals of the data processing and must then be safely destroyed. However, there might be exceptions for scientific, statistical or historical purposes. Please look at our website for further information on RGPD.

For other data, you may choose what to keep in considering their uniqueness, long-term value and potential of reuse. You may, for example, want to keep certain data to validate your publication’s results, for future teaching and research). However, take also into account the costs (time, software, etc.) and efforts required to preserve these data (and associated preparation, documentation, and storage steps).

Depending on these (legal) aspects, you may state a period of preservation: some data will be obsolete in 2, 5, 10 or 50 years, depending on the research topic.

2. Choose an embargo period

Before making your data accessible for researchers and/or general public, you may want to define an embargo period. An embargo period is a limited period of time after which your data will be available. In many cases, this embargo period is stated in your consortium agreement, funders’ contract, patent, etc. There might be several reason for delaying your data release (having a period of time during which only you and your partners might publish using your data, for example).

Consider how long your embargo period will last (if any) and state a clear release (date). Communicate this embargo period with the repository you chose.