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Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age
such training and provide the financial support for researchers to be able to do so. Research institutions and sponsors also facilitate the development of data professionals by providing career paths for these individuals, supporting their training, and recognizing and rewarding their contributions.
Researchers have many incentives for maintaining the integrity of the data they generate. They have fewer incentives, in general, for making their data widely available, and fewer still to invest the time and resources needed to ensure the stewardship of data. Policy initiatives are therefore essential if research data are to achieve their maximum value.
Research institutions have a special responsibility to be proactive in making research data accessible (Chapter 3). Research grants and contracts typically give research institutions ownership rights in research data, and so those institutions have a particular interest in seeing that research data are available, that restrictions on the accessibility of research data are justified, and that procedures exist for responding to requests for research data. Both formal policies and informal expectations help to avoid conflicts over data accessibility.
Research institutions also can and should play the leading role in stewardship of its scholarship and knowledge resources (Chapter 4).
Research sponsors, including government agencies, philanthropies, private companies, and other funders, also have an interest in all three of the qualities discussed in this report. But they have a particular responsibility toward data stewardship (Chapter 4). The infrastructure needed for data stewardship is much less developed than is the infrastructure for publishing research conclusions. Also, the long-term preservation of data in a usable form can be costly, and research data are so varied across fields that different systems are needed for different fields.
Funders can maximize the value of the research they fund by also taking steps to support the stewardship of data. They need to work with researchers in the fields they sponsor to develop incentives for researchers to invest in data stewardship, and they need to consider support for the data centers and tools that facilitate stewardship.
PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES AND JOURNALS
Finally, professional societies and journals have important roles to play in all three of the areas explored in this report. They can help develop and disseminate guidelines for a research field and then help monitor and enforce compliance with those guidelines. Journals are directly responsible for the long-term preservation of the articles they publish, and an increasing number of journals are assuming responsibility for maintaining the data on which research conclu-