Introduction to Open Data

Open Research Data is data that is freely accessible and can be re-used and is a more and more important area of Open Science. If data are made available, free of technical, financial and legal barriers, this improves traceability, increases efficiency and enables better quality assurance. Currently, research data are often still inaccessible, stored on USB sticks and private storage media. When research results are published to a wider audience with comprehensive documentation, it is easier to check them for robustness and to reproduce or replicate them. Open Research Data therefore contribute to strengthening the trust in science.

Making research data available is gradually becoming standard practice; it is also a central element in reproducible research. It should be accompanied by systematic research data management, which also offers many practical advantages for day-to-day research. Furthermore, research organisations are increasingly demanding that researchers compile data management plans that give information on how they make their research data available. Since research data often have to be disclosed later in the research process anyway, for example when a journal requires it, opening up your own data right from the start makes sense.

Generally speaking, Open Data can be downloaded, analysed, reused and shared by others. There are good reasons, however, why open and transparent research data are not always 100% practical. Research data should therefore be “as open as possible and as closed as necessary”; in science we speak of FAIR Data in this context. But the fact that the mere existence of data is known, already represents an important first step.