Getting it right on data access for research

Knowledge Rights 21 is happy to join with key organisations representing universities and university libraries in signing an open letter calling for reconsideration of provisions in the EU’s draft Data Act on access to data for research purposes.

As has long been made clear by the Open Access movement, the possibility to access knowledge is an essential precondition for high-impact research. New tools and techniques for working with information and data have made it possible both to deepen and accelerate scientific progress, not least in key emerging areas such as artificial intelligence.

To enable Europe to make the most of these possibilities, European researchers and research institutions need to benefit from the simplest and broadest possible access to data as the raw material for their work.

Yet too often, their needs are not taken into account in laws and regulations that seem rather to follow other priorities.

This is most recently the case with the EU’s draft Data Act, which claims to work to facilitate flows of information around Europe by setting out common rules.

While the Act does bring likely benefits for consumers, its provisions on access to data for researchers make it clear that the imperative of promoting European research was not adequately considered during its preparation and negotiation.

Knowledge Rights 21 is therefore happy to sign on to an open statement, alongside LIBER, The Guild, the European Universities Association, CESAER and SPARC Europe, calling for improvements.

These include clearer limits on charges on researchers for access, safeguards against abuse of possibilities to deny access, and a better balance of interests when applying rules around personal data.

Overall, the letter underlines a point already made strongly by Knowledge Rights 21 in general – that the European Union and national governments need to see research not as an after-thought, but as a first-order priority.

We strong encourage all players in the European Union to act on these calls.