Open data policy

Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) research data guidelines promote openness and impact, and conform with the changing requirements by the society and funders. The guidelines cover the areas of processing, storage, accessibility and usability of research data.

Syke's research data guidelines determine the policies of the management and use of Syke research data. The guidelines outline common principles for the determination of responsibilities and the description and dissemination of metadata related to data management. The guidelines cover data produced as part of research carried out at SYKE.

Key objectives:

  • Research data is open for everyone to utilise
  • The policies of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK) are complied with
  • Syke research data are managed as an entity, i.e. the data is saved comprehensively and stored in electronic format in a reliable manner with regard to information security
  • Related metadata are stored and made available in a systematic manner
  • Good practices are complied with in the management of immaterial property rights (IPR) and the processing of information that is confidential, the disclosure of which is restricted and which are related to the Personal Data Act

Basic principles of the research data policy:

  1. Syke's research data policy is based on valid legislation1 and Finnish guidelines on open science and research. Information requests regarding Syke's research data are processed in accordance with the Act on the Openness of Government Activities.
  2. The openness and impact of science and research as well as the fair and equal treatment of actors are promoted in accordance with Syke's strategic objectives and policy on quality assurance.
  3. Syke holds ownership of and user rights to all the research data produced by those employed by Syke, unless otherwise specified in legislation or agreements.
  4. The practices for the management of research data, and the principles and instructions concerning its disclosure are harmonised, and these are complied with in all of Syke's research activities. As a rule, research data is made open after a project has come to an end.
  5. Research data is made available to the public free of charge and it can be used freely ('open data') provided that the source of the information is cited.
  6. If there are costs associated with the conversion of data to the format requested by the actor, the pricing will be determined pursuant to the Act on Criteria for Charges Payable to the State (150/1992).
  7. Syke's personnel manages Syke's research data policy and the related instructions.
  8. Research data policy training is arranged and information regarding the data policy is made widely available. 

1 The key legislation includes the Copyright Act (404/1961) and the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999).

Good research data management begins with the research plan

A research data management plan is to be drafted in connection with the research plan. As a rule, the research data management plan describes the type of data, the description of the materials in Syke's metadata service, the long-term storage of the data, the ethical and legal issues related to the storage of the data as well as releasing the data (‘open data’). Syke recommends the DMPTuuli tool be used in the drafting of the data management.

Principles for the management of research data

Syke’s materials are divided into three categories:

  1. Open data that is published in Syke’s Open Data Service
  2. Agreement-based data or data that requires permission
  3. Confidential data

1. Open data that is published in Syke's Open Data Service

All of Syke's open materials are published in Syke's Open Data Service ( Open research data is published on the page as its own service package, which the SYKE Data and Information Centre is responsible for maintaining.

Open research data is made to comply with the Creative Commons By 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0). This licence gives the party using the data the permission (1) to copy the materials and distribute them as well as (2) to edit the materials and create new materials based on them, also for commercial use. Any party using open research data must cite Syke as the source of the information.

2. Agreement-based data or data that requires permission

Some of the materials used or produced during research are not open, and their use is regulated by various agreements and user rights. If the materials are produced as a joint effort between different actors, the terms of joint ownerships and related user rights as well as the publication of the material must be agreed on separately. Syke does not have the right to publish materials that another actor has created, invented or drawn up. However, it is possible to agree separately on the user rights related to the materials and the related terms with the owner of the data and/or the party that holds immaterial property rights to them. If nothing has been agreed on user rights, requests concerning the materials will be directed to their owner.

Materials that contain personal data cannot be published without express permission from the party in question. As a rule, the research data produced during questionnaires and interview studies is made open (anonymised). If the materials produced in a questionnaire or interview study contains personal data, the materials cannot be published without express permission from the party in question. However, the materials can be published if personal data can be made anonymous and (or) geographically generalised. Spatial data can also be considered personal data, if enables identification of an individual. Materials that contain spatial data can be published when they have been generalised so that they cannot as such or in relation to other data be connected to a natural person2.

Matters related to spatial data can be approached via the concept of personal data. According to section 3 of the Personal Data Act, personal data means any information on a private individual and any information on his/her personal characteristics or personal circumstances, where these are identifiable as concerning him/her or the members of his/her family or household. In Opinion 4/2007 on the concept of personal data, the Working Party on the Protection of Individuals established pursuant to Article 29 of the Data Protection Directive has stated that "In cases where prima facie the extent of the identifiers available does not allow anyone to single out a particular person, that person might still be “identifiable” because that information combined with other pieces of information (whether the latter is retained by the data controller or not) will allow the individual to be distinguished from others."

If there are agreements and/or user and disclosure restrictions attached to the data in Syke's systems, these restrictions are described in the metadata system in connection with each material and system. User restrictions can be related to e.g. the disclosure of received materials to a third party.

3. Confidential data

Data to be kept confidential may be produced by Syke, or Syke may have received from other organisations as confidential data that must be kept in confidence. Provisions on confidential official documents are specified in section 24 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999). According to the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, Syke's own materials which are to be kept confidential include information on threatened species or the conservation of valuable nature areas, as well as samples and collections of threatened animal species.

Keeping data confidential may also be justified in the following instances

  • Protection of potential commercial and industrial results (e.g. trade, patents, commercialisation)
  • Matters related to contry’s internal security
  • Conflict of interest with the main purpose of a project (e.g. commercialisationof results, ethical reasons)
  • Other legal reasons (such as the Act on the Openness of Government Activities)

Syke's instructions (attachment) must be complied with in the classification and processing of data that is to be kept confidential. The instructions are in compliance with the Government Decree on information security in central government. Device and work space practices must be taken into special consideration when processing data that is to be kept confidential.

If it is not possible to make Syke research data open, the grounds for keeping it confidential must be entered and saved into its metadata.

Published 2018-01-18 at 13:26, updated 2023-08-22 at 13:00
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