Management and Sharing of Research Data

Note: The HRB hosted an information sharing webinar on 13th of February. This webinar is now avaliable -

For data gathered and generated in whole or in part from HRB-funded research, the following policy will be adhered to with effect from 1st of January 2020.


The Health Research Board (HRB) supports and promotes research that will improve people’s health, patient care and health service delivery. The primary output from the research projects funded by the HRB is often the data gathered and generated to support observations and validate the project. To ensure that this data is used to its maximum potential, data needs to be adequately managed from the earliest stage in the research process and should be preserved and made available for reuse beyond the original project.

Good data governance and stewardship are fundamental to good research practice. The HRB supports the principle that research data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR)[1].

This policy is intended to promote the responsible management and sharing of research data, and the software and materials that underpin its use, with as few restrictions as possible to maximise its value for research and for patient and public benefit.

This policy applies to all HRB-funded research where data is generated as a fundamental output of the research project. Host Institutions who receive funding directly from the HRB are encouraged to align their own data sharing policies with the HRB’s.

The HRB recognises that not all research data can be made open to maintain confidentiality and privacy, respect the terms of consent, as well as manage security or safeguard against other risks. For these reasons, the degrees of data openness may justifiably vary, including fully open, restricted / governed access or strictly confidential.

Data in this policy is considered all research data, software and material outputs that underlie HRB-funded projects.


Research data[2] are the evidence that underpins the answer to the research question and can be used to validate findings regardless of its form (e.g. print, digital, or physical).

The primary purpose of research data is to provide the information necessary to support or validate a research project's observations, findings or outputs.

The FAIR Guiding Principles1insist that all data be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

Open research data2 are those research data that can be freely accessed, used, modified, and shared, provided that there is appropriate acknowledgement if required.

Policy Statement


1. Researchers are expected to maximise the availability of research data, and the software and materials that underpin it, with as few as restrictions as possible.  As a minimum, the data underpinning published research should be made available to other researchers at the time of publication, as well as any other resources (e.g. original software, methodology or organisation of data collection) that is required to view datasets or to replicate analyses.

2. Applicants for HRB funding must consider their approach to managing and sharing expected data outputs at the research proposal stage in line with the National Framework on the Transition to an Open Research Environment[3]

3. The HRB requires a data management plan (DMP) supplemental to all approved grant proposals where DMPs requirements are specified within the award call guidance. Host Institutions must sign a declaration that DMPs for research projects have been completed in partnership with an Institutional data steward or equivalent.  The completed DMP and signed declaration must be submitted to the HRB as a first deliverable of all projects. A final updated version of the DMP must be submitted with the final report.

4. The DMP will outline how the data for a specific project will be collected, organised, stored, backed-up, preserved, shared, archived and disposed. It will outline legal and ethical requirements, the roles and responsibilities for data management and stewardship, including the coordination across partners, and for DMP implementation.

5. The HRB has defined a minimum set of questions that comprise the DMP and that are to be addressed in the DMP template.  The HRB DMP is aligned with the Science Europe Core Requirements for Data Management Plans[4].

6. The HRB recognises that in some instances data cannot be made openly accessible, however it is required that all metadata underpinning the data must be made openly available in a discoverable and accessible manner.  Justification for why data cannot be made openly available must be described in the DMP.

7. Researchers’ approach to data management should be dynamic and DMPs should be updated throughout the life cycle of the project. In particular, researchers must ensure that their research outputs:

  • Are discoverable through quality metadata and use of searchable repository,
  • Use recognised community repositories for data and other outputs where these exist,
  • Are citeable by means of a persistent identifier (e.g. DoI).

8. The HRB will take a proportionate approach to the assessment of DMPs to enhance key learnings and promote change in research data culture and practice.

9. Within grant proposals, costs related to data management, FAIRification process, storage and archiving of research data in line with best practice of data management and stewardship and implementation of the FAIR principles that are incurred during the lifetime of the project should be included. The HRB will not cover costs for the long-term preservation of data.  

10. The HRB recognises and values a range of research outputs – including datasets, software and materials, intellectual property, policy influences as well as publications – in assessing the track record of researchers applying for funding[5].

11. For grant-holders, HRB will consider whether researchers have managed and shared their research data and underlying software and materials in line with our requirements, as part of the project output reporting.

12. To ensure data-sharers receive full and appropriate recognition, HRB expects all HRB-funded users of research data to cite the source and to abide by the terms and conditions under which they were accessed.

Version 1.0

November 2019


[1] The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Scientific Data (2016).

[2] UK Research and Innovation (2016). Concordat on Open Research Data.

[3] National Framework on the Transition to an Open Research Environment. (2019)

[4] Science Europe (2019). Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management.

[5] The HRB signed up to DORA (The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) in 2018 which recognises the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated.