OECD & CODATA Policy Paper on Business models for sustainable research data repositories

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OECD & CODATA Policy Paper on Business models for sustainable research data repositories
12 Dec 2017

OECD & CODATA Policy Paper on Business models for sustainable research data repositories

Recognising the many scientific, economic, and social benefits of more open science, research policy makers and funders around the world are increasingly likely to prefer or mandate open data, and to require data management policies that call for the long-term stewardship of research data. At the same time, there are ever more data being created and used within research, and access to data is playing an increasingly central role in many research fields. Indeed, there are a number of fields of research that depend almost entirely upon the availability of global data sources provided through research data repositories.

As a result, repositories for the curation and sharing of research data have become a vital part of the research infrastructure. It is thus essential to ensure that these repositories are adequately and sustainably funded. However, relatively little work has been done to date on the revenue streams or business models that might provide ongoing support for research data repositories.

This project was designed to take up the challenge and to contribute to a better understanding of how research data repositories are funded, and what developments are occurring in their funding. Central questions included:

  • How are data repositories currently funded, and what are the key revenue sources?
  • What innovative revenue sources are available to data repositories?
  • How do revenue sources fit together into sustainable business models?
  • What incentives for, and means of, optimising costs are available?
  • What revenue sources and business models are most acceptable to key stakeholders?

Forty-eight structured interviews were undertaken with repository managers from 18 countries and a broad range of research domains. They provided insights into key issues, which were further elaborated in two international workshops involving a variety of stakeholders - including repository managers, funders, and policy analysts.

There is a large variety of repositories that are responsible for providing long term access to data that is used for research. As data volumes and the demands for more open access to this data increase, these repositories are coming under increasing financial pressures that can undermine their long-term sustainability.This report explores the income streams, costs, value propositions, and business models for 48 research data repositories. It includes a set of recommendations designed to provide a framework for developing sustainable business models and to assist policy makers and funders in supporting repositories with a balance of policy regulation and incentives.

The work was requested by the OECD Global Science Forum (GSF) in October 2015 and has been carried out in partnership with the Committee on Data for Science and Technology of the International Council for Science (ICSU-CODATA). It also has benefitted enormously from strong links with the Research Data Alliance (RDA). A joint RDA - World Data System (WDS) survey of data repositories has been incorporated into and expanded upon in this project. A two-day project workshop was held in Brussels in March, 2017 with generous support from the European Commission DG-RTD.

To view and download the report visit: