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Public dialogue on data openness, data re-use and data management

                              Sciencewise co-funded project 2012


Open data has been a key theme of the new coalition government since 2010.  The Cabinet Office has encouraged a wide range of public datasets to be made openly available and established a Public Sector Transparency Board and Transparency Principles. Open Data is also one of the themes within the Government’s Growth Review.

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Impacts & Value

•    The report will be used by Research Councils UK to inform their data policies which are being revised later this year. In particular the work has had a direct influence on the work of the Research Councils’ Research Outputs Network which co-ordinates cross council policy on access and use of research outputs and data (including across the HEFCs).

•    The summary findings were also presented in March 2012 to the Administrative Data Taskforce, chaired by Sir Alan Langlands to feed into the Taskforce report to ministers in December 2012 on the wider use of administrative data for research and policy purposes11.

•    Stakeholders felt that the report produced from the public dialogue could be used as part of an evidence base to be used when making decisions about data policies. One stakeholder from the Welsh Government was in the process of gathering evidence to speak to a special advisor and felt this report could be used to support this conversation: “The bottom line is ministers are real people and have the same concerns as a member of the public. When it comes to data, they don’t know much about it and to be able to reassure them that real people are reassured is invaluable. Anything which contributes to ministers and confidence and their certainty about this is incredibly important” (Interview with stakeholder who attended the stakeholder workshop)

Project Status

1 page project summary published - March 2016

Interview with Steve Hill, Director of Strategy at Research Councils UK, on Open Data dialogue in the Sciencewise September quarterly newsletter (2012)

What the public think about Open Research Data Blog post by Dialogue and Engagement Specialist, Daniel Start.

Research Data – how open should it be? Blog post by Dialogue and Engagement Specialist, Daniel Start.

First round of public dialogues held in Swindon and Oldham in February 2012.

Project delivery team and evaluators appointed in January 2012.

Policy Maker View

“This report demonstrates why it’s so important to engage the public in policy development and shows a clear understanding of the issues surrounding use of research data. It will make an important contribution to the work being done by government, research funding bodies and other organisations on opening up access to research findings.”
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science
“It is risky to engage in anything other than a deliberative sense because the topline results might be negative…There is a lot of emotive examples out there that people latch onto… Worrying that this deliberative kind of approach isn’t done more.”
Stakeholder participant
“Think the format worked well, the fact that the public got a chance to go away and think about it and then come back and discuss it further. It was a difficult topic and not something the public had thought about before and the format gave them the opportunity to mull it over.”
Steering Group member