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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsWe must urgently clarify data-sharing rules – Nature (Jan-Eric Litton | January 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

We must urgently clarify data-sharing rules – Nature (Jan-Eric Litton | January 2017)

 


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In a little over 12 months, the European Commission will roll out a new legal framework to govern the protection of personal data. There were many debates and discussions about the controversial regulations, which passed last year, and scientists and scientific bodies raised concerns over restrictions that the framework could have placed on the use of research data. We won several concessions, but the fight is not over yet. Scientists must now come together to work out a consistent way to implement the rules, and they must do so quickly.

Once in place, the European regulations will have to be interpreted by lawyers, administrative staff and others across a diverse patchwork of legal systems and cultures. To smooth their introduction and implementation, the European Commission is encouraging organizations that represent data users to prepare formal codes of conduct that would set out — in simple language — what can and cannot be done. Scientists need to help prepare these codes to ensure that the hard-won concessions for research are not lost in translation.

Legal texts are not easily accessible to non-lawyers. By developing codes of conduct that are as understandable as possible, we can help to guide researchers and administrative staff, reduce unnecessary fear about compliance and enhance data sharing for the sake of progress in research.

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