Accessibility for research of data administered in public and semi-public record systems

Data administered by government organisations are very important to research. That is why the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has asked the Academy to investigate how easily researchers can access data held in public and semi-public record systems.

Purpose

The Dutch government aims to make data administered by government organisations available (‘open data’), with the exception of data associated with natural persons and commercially sensitive data. Researchers may use such data only if they do not disclose any information about individual persons or businesses. They can, however, share general insights or data that cannot be traced to individual persons or businesses.

Data can be accessed through existing structures, with Statistics Netherlands playing an important role in this regard, but it is possible that new structures can improve access further.

The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has asked the Academy to advise on how to give researchers better access to data held in public and semi-public record systems.

Tasks

The advisory report will address the following questions:

  • What is the best and most scrupulous way of making data administrated in public and semi-public record systems accessible for scientific research? Are there any comparable procedures or best practices abroad that the Netherlands can take as an example?
  • To what extent does the current supply of open data made available by the Dutch government satisfy the demands of scientific research? Are there specific examples of data that should be made ‘open’?
  • To what extent do the current accessibility, quality and long-term availability of non-open data administered in public and semi-public record systems satisfy the demands of scientific research? Are there specific examples of data whose accessibility, quality and long-term availability are less than ideal?
  • What else can the Dutch government do to give researchers access to data administered in public and semi-public record systems?
  • Are there examples of policy domains in which policymaking could be improved with the help of scientific research, if the Academy’s recommendations were to be followed?

Committee

In response to the request for an advisory opinion, the Academy Board has installed the Committee on the Accessibility for Scientific Research of Data Administered in Public and Semi-public Record Systems.

Term

The Academy will offer its advisory report to the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science by no later than December 2018.