NFFA-Europe Scientific Data Policy

Approved by the General Assembly on March 2017

NFFA-Europe Datashare and Information and Data Repository Platform (IDRP) provide innovative common infrastructures for the data collected by NFFA-Europe users. These tools should make it easier and more efficient for NFFA users to access and process their data and provide a more secure storage and retrieval medium. They should also increase the scientific value of the data collected by making them available to a wider community for further analysis and fostering new collaborations between scientific groups.

Both NFFA-Europe research and data users are strongly encouraged to use Datashare and IDRP and exploit their added value in managing scientific data with state-of-the-art technology.

NFFA-Europe defines a data policy in order to:

  1. Ensure the continuous availability of data of lasting value for research, teaching, and for wider exploitation by individuals, government, business, or other organizations;
  2. Support the integrity, transparency and openness of the research;
  3. Help in the formal publication of datasets, as well as enable usage tracking of data through citation and data licenses;


Major terms used in this policy are explained in the Appendix 1.

The present document follows the Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020. NFFA Datashare and IDRP contribute to the implementation of these Guidelines in respect to raw data collected by NFFA-Europe users in their experiments on nano-facilities by helping them in managing raw experimental data and associated metadata.

  1. General principles
    1. The present data management policy pertains to the ownership of, the curation of, and access to experimental data and metadata collected and/or stored on the NFFA-Europe IDRP within the context of the NFFA-Europe project.
    2. Acceptance of this policy is a condition for the award of NFFA-Europe Datashare and IDRP platforms usage.
    3. Users must not attempt to access, exploit, or distribute raw data or metadata unless they are entitled to do so under the terms of this policy.
    4. Deliberate infringements of the policy may lead to denial access to raw data or metadata, and/or denial of future facility usage requests within NFFA-Europe.
    5. All data and metadata will be subject to the data protection legislation of the Countries in which the data and metadata are stored.
  2. Raw data and associated metadata
    1. Treatment of raw data and associated metadata
      1. Basic metadata referring to the accepted proposal will be made available on NFFA-Europe IDRP portal at different stages. By default, the IDRP publishes the following basic metadata: PI, title of proposal and instruments to be used are released once the proposal is accepted. Once the embargo period is completed abstract of the proposal is released.
      2. Associated/contextual metadata and links to the data obtained as a result of publicly funded access to NFFA-Europe research facilities will be released open access after an initial embargo period during which access is restricted to the research users, represented by the PI. The embargo period can be extended according to the section 2.2 of this policy.
      3. Industrial users may opt for a proprietary access where all data and metadata remain confidential. Users working for SMEs are exempted from the data obligation contained in this document.
      4. Raw data stored in facilities that are part of NFFA-Europe are under the custody of these facilities, while NFFA-Europe is the custodian of all of associated metadata stored on NFFA-Europe IDRP according to the NFFA metadata model. If the user decides to store the data at the IDRP, the IDRP is also custodian of the raw data.
      5. NFFA-Europe plans for 10 years as long-term period to maintain metadata and potentially data within the IDRP. The actual retention period will depend on the type and volume of data and the economic consequences associated with long-term data storage. Thus, NFFA-Europe reserves the right to restrict the retention periods or datasets in consultation with the respective communities of high data rate instruments.
    2. Access to raw data and metadata
      1. Access to metadata is foreseen to be via a searchable online data catalogue: the IDRP. Metadata modification and requests of dataset download will be logged.
      2. Access to the NFFA-Europe on-line data catalogue will be available worldwide. This includes searching for publicly available metadata and datasets. For modification of metadata and access to data the data user must be registered with the NFFA portal. 
      3. Downloading of data will be performed from the location where the data is stored, e.g. a local storage facility or the IDRP. Each download request will be logged for monitoring purposes.
      4. Access to raw data and the associated metadata obtained from an experiment can be restricted to the research users for an embargo period of a maximum of 3 years after the end of the experiment. Thereafter, the NFFA-Europe releases data under Creative Commons BY 3.0 license which allows data reuse for any purpose yet requires a clear attribution of the data indicating its creators, as well as indicating changes to the data when such changes have been made.
      5. Any PI who wishes his data and proposal information to retain restricted access for a longer period, or made open before the embargo period ended, will be required to make a special request to IDRP. By default, the access to raw data and full proposal information within the embargo period is granted only to the PI and all assigned researchers (“user group members”). Information about the proposal is published as explained in section 2.1.1 of this policy. 
      6. Data and metadata stored at the IDRP can be accessed by privileged users (who signed non-disclosure declaration), e.g. for administrative and curation purposes. 
      7. The PI has the right to transfer part or the totality of his/her rights during the embargo period to another registered person.
      8. The PI and all user group members have the right to create and distribute copies of the raw data.
  3. Good practice for metadata captures and results storage
    1. The research users are encouraged to ensure that the experiments metadata are as complete as possible, as this will enhance the possibilities for everybody to search for, retrieve and interpret the data in the long term.
    2. NFFA-Europe provides means for the capture of such metadata items that are not automatically captured by the instrument, in order to facilitate recording the fullest possible description of the raw data.
    3. Data users who aim to carry out analyses of raw data and metadata which are openly accessible are invited to contact the original PI or his/her designate to inform them him/her and suggest a collaboration, if appropriate. Researchers must acknowledge the source of the data and cite its unique identifier as well as any publications linked to the same raw data. 
    4. PIs and user group members who carry out analyses of raw data are encouraged to link the results of these analyses to the raw data and metadata. Furthermore, they are encouraged to make such results openly accessible.
    5. PIs and user group members who carry out analyses are encouraged to publish well defined datasets, that can include both raw and analyzed datasets, associating persistent identifiers with them, in order to make data identifiable and citable. 
    6. Publications related to data from experiments carried out at NFFA-Europe facilities are invited to cite the proposal ID and, if available, persistent identifiers of the experiment and data.
  4. Appendix 1: Definitions of terms
    1. The term raw data pertains to data collected from experiments performed on NFFA-Europe instruments, including results of computer experiments (simulations) and uploaded to the NFFA-Europe IDRP. This definition includes data that are created automatically or manually by facility specific software and/or facility staff expertise in order to facilitate subsequent analysis of the experimental data.
    2. The term metadata describes information pertaining to research proposals submitted via NFFA portal (which may be referred to as basic metadata), as well as data collected from NFFA-Europe facility instruments, including (but not limited to) the context of the experiment, the research users, experimental conditions, and other logistical information and stored on the NFFA-Europe IDRP (which may be referred to as associated metadata). 
    3. The term principal investigator (PI) pertains to the main proposer identified on the NFFA-Europe proposal as “user group leader” 
    4. The term research user refers to any person of the proposal research team or to whom the PI designates the right to access resultant raw data and associated metadata.
    5. The term data users refers to anyone accessing the IDRP portal and metadata therein.
    6. The term public research refers to research done through peer review and leading to publication(s).
    7. The term online data catalogue pertains to a computer database of metadata containing links to raw data files, that can be accessed by a variety of methods, including (but not limited to) web-based browsers.
    8. The term results pertains to data, intellectual property, and outcomes arising from the analysis of raw data. This does not include publications.
    9. The term custodian refers to the Institute storing, curating, and providing access to raw data, metadata, and results. 
    10. The term long-term means a minimum of 5 years up to 10 years.
    11. The term user groups members refers to the research users associated with a proposal. They are identified and associated to the proposal by the PI.
    12. The term open data access refers to the definition reported in the “Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020” mentioned above.
    13. The term SME stands for Small and medium-sized enterprises and are defined in the EU recommendation 2003/361