The Open Research Data Task Force

​ As part of Professor Adam Tickell’s advice on open access to research to minister Jo Johnson, a recommendation was made that a ‘roadmap’ for national open research data infrastructure be produced with a set of recommendations. In order to lead and coordinate this work the minister established a Taskforce. 

Open research data is the next key phase in the UK’s open science ambitions – by science we mean a formal approach to knowledge that is rationally explicable and practically applicable. The UK is a world leader in research data, following policies from UK research funders and engagement in support of research data management within UK universities, as well as long established specialised data centres. The academic community has played an important role in developing the research data landscape, particularly with the development of the Open Research Data Concordat, which for the first time has united the sector around key principles.

Established by the then Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, the Open Research Data Task Force has examined the opportunities presented though open research data (ORD).  Open Research Data (ORD) has the potential not only to deliver greater efficiencies in research, but to improve its rigour and reproducibility; enhancing its impact, and increasing trust from the public in scientific research.

"Realising the potential" is the final report of the Open Research Data Task Force, and is addressed to UKRI and other funders, universities and other research institutions, publishers and learned societies as a call to arms. The report makes recommendations to accelerate the UK's move to open research data.

The Task Force has sought to build on the principles set out in the Concordat on Open Research Data, and to take account of wider moves towards ORD within the international landscape.

Their aims in formulating the recommendations were:

  • to enhance the quality and value of research by providing the  incentives, the services, and the support researchers need as both creators and users of data;
  • to facilitate the wider scrutiny and re-use of data;
  • to increase public engagement and trust in research; and
  • to promote the use of data to facilitate innovation and to enhance the benefit it brings to citizens in the UK and beyond.

The final report is structured around 5 main themes:

Better incentives, fewer barriers

  • Active leadership
  • Clear expectations
  • User-friendly services
  • Sustainable funding

The recommendations in the report are grouped under these themes.

The investigation of eight institutional and disciplinary examples was commissioned to understand the roles and responsibilities of different organisations and communities in this space. The case studies cover use cases from astronomy, biosciences, digital humanities, crystallography, the Universities of Bristol and Salford, the Natural History Museum and Germany. The full case studies, together with a short summary, are published alongside the final report of the Task Force.

Professor Thomas said of the task force and its work: "I thank all those worked on the Task Force or who contributed to its work. We were tasked with setting out a roadmap for the development of a national open research data infrastructure. It is clear to the Taskforce that the crucial destinations on that map must be:  the identification of an active Leadership to coordinate ORD efforts across all organisations and institutions; the establishment of user friendly services to make it easier to publish, manage and locate research data; and the provision of sustainable funding which supports the process of creating and reusing open research outcomes."

About the Task Force

Professor Pam Thomas (PVC Research at the University of Warwick) chairs the Task Force.
Secretariat support is provided by Dr Caroline Ingran, Jisc. 

Members include:

  • Professor Geoffrey Boulton (University of Edinburgh, CODATA)
  • Professor Bill Spence (Queen Mary University of London)
  • Professor David De Roure (Oxford University) 
  • Professor Andrew Prescott (University of Glasgow)
  • Chris Awre (University of Hull)
  • ​Professor Nick Wright (Newcastle University) 
  • Professor John Helliwell (University of Manchester
  • Stuart Taylor,  Royal Society
  • Professor Carole Goble, University of Manchester​

and representatives from Research England, The Wellcome Trust, Universities UK, BEIS and Jisc. 

  • Claire Fraser (Research England)
  • David Carr (The Wellcome Trust)
  • Max Hastings (Universities UK)
  • Wayne Williams (UKRI)
  • BEIS (Observer)
  • Rachael Bruce (Jisc)

The Task Force will consult more widely or co-opt expertise as required.​


Research data infrastructures in the UK - June 2017

This is the first report of the Open Research Data Task Force. The report provides a thorough overview of the infrastructure that supports open research data in the UK and abroad. It details the policies that have been implemented by research funders and universities themselves; the technological platforms and tools developed at local, national and international levels; and the cultural challenges that are still present across different disciplinary research groups. The report has been reviewed and discussed by members of the Open Research Data Taskforce who represent HEFCE, RCUK, Wellcome Trust, UUK, Jisc, BEIS, academics from a number of disciplines and champions of open research data.

 Download: PDF, Microsoft Word



For further information, please contact ​

 The team

portrait of charlie coyte

Charlotte Coyte

Policy Analyst
Universities UK

Daniel Wake

Daniel Wake

Policy Manager
Universities UK