Publication and Open Access

There are some concepts that tend to cause a bit of confusion when you talk about making research data accessible. While research data in the SND research data catalogue have been made accessible, we cannot say that they are all openly accessible, and the terms Open Access and Open Data can also be misunderstood.

Open Access 

Open Access is a term that has been used for quite some time to describe scientific articles and other research publications that are accessible online, free of charge. Some people talk about open access to research data, which can be misleading. Because even though some data may be directly downloaded from a website, other data are only accessible to a limited degree. Furthermore, Open Access can be interpreted as meaning that the data are published in a data journal, which is usually not the case (even though there are a number of data journals that are published with Open Access).

Openly accessible data 

Openly or freely accessible data means that anyone who wants to access the research data can do so, without any restrictions. The most common way of giving open access to research data is by making the data accessible by direct download from a website, such as the SND research data catalogue.

However, only some of the data in the SND research data catalogue are openly accessible; the rest are accessible with restrictions. This means that the catalogue post contains information about how you can access the data, but as they may be sensitive in some way, you need to place an order and request access to them. There may even be a mandatory confidentiality assessment before the data can be released to you.

Open Data 

Open data is a term that has come to have diverse meanings, so we advise you to be cautious about using it. Some use open data as a synonym to openly accessible data, as in data that can be freely accessed without any restrictions. On the other hand, when others use Open Data, they mean open government data, data from government agencies which have been made freely accessible. They mean that there is a difference between Open Data (from government agencies) and open research data (from research activities). As some research data cannot be published freely, and as there are different opinions about the meaning of open data/Open Data, SND has decided to use the term accessible data for research data that have been made accessible for reuse.

The Swedish Research Council coordinates the Swedish efforts to introduce open access to research data. You can read more about their assignment and what it means here.

Data journals 

If you want to publish research data in a journal, you can do than in a data journal. There are data journals in various scientific fields, and they don't publish scientific articles with discussions about research findings. Instead, a data journal publishes data articles with comprehensive descriptions of different data materials and information about how to gain access to the data, such as by a PID or another unique ID in a data repository. Contributions to data journals are reviewed on scientific merits, just like magazine articles, and a data article is generally viewed as giving more merit than if you "just" make the data accessible.

There are data journals with different, more or less broad approaches to data. If you want to know more about data journals that might be suitable for your data material, please contact your local research data support.