Research data is a cornerstone of scientific discovery and much of it can be used as a basis for further research unconnected with its original purpose. The long-term protection and availability of quality-assured research data is extremely important for science in the digital age. Because of this, a large number of science policy statements call for open access to research data. Transparent access not only enables research data to be reproduced but also to be reused in further research.
Sustainable management of research data requires special infrastructure adapted to the needs of scientists if it is to increase the efficiency of the research process. Taking the specifications of each discipline into account, the main purpose of data management infrastructure is to support scientists throughout the research process – from the creation of first datasets to collaborative structures, publication and data repositories. The research data centres of the Leibniz Association mirror the breadth of the member institutions and follow subject-specific standards for the curation and publication of their data.
The Leibniz Association has many research data repositories aimed at subject experts. A few member institutions also support interdisciplinary infrastructures, such as the Research Data Repository (RADAR) of FIZ Karlsruhe – the Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure. In addition, the Leibniz Association is heavily involved in international initiatives. For instance, three of the four German members of the DataCite consortium are Leibniz Association institutions. They are helping to make research data as easy to reference as publications, through the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). Building on these experiences and skills, many Leibniz Association institutions are involved in setting up a National Research Data Infrastructure.
In 2009, the Leibniz Association set up the Research Data Working Group in response to the growing importance of this issue. The increasing relevance of research data for the Leibniz Association is reflected in its Guidelines for Handling Research Data (2018). The members of the working group are also involved in the activities of Digital Information, an initiative of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany, and in discussions at European level through the Science Europe Working Group on Research Data.