Data Sharing and guidelines

The WUR Data policy aims to ensure continuity and verifiability of research. It has a strong focus on keeping data safe and making data findable and accessible (two main characteristics of FAIR data). FAIR, however also includes the R of re-usability. Data can only be re-used when data is shared. The Data Sharing guidelines aim to help you to decide on how to share your data. 

Data sharing does not always mean data publishing

Research funded by public money, like funding from NWO and the European Commission, is currently guided by these principles:

  • sharing data ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’, which means  that there are opt-outs for data for which it is not possible to be open. Legitimate reasons not to make data open are for example privacy, public safety, ethical restrictions, intellectual property rights or commercial interests. The WUR also follow ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’ as a guiding principle in data sharing. 
  • the FAIR principles: making data FAIR Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

When data cannot be shared openly/externally (i.e. archived in a repository by publishing the data), they can and should be shared internally (archived at the group level on e.g. the W-drive) and in a FAIR (as possible) manner. As such, FAIR data, is not the equivalent of open data, i.e. data freely available to everyone (published data).

Different levels of data sharing

The WUR Data Sharing guidelines provide different levels of sharing when it comes to data archiving: open data, restricted access and closed access. Each of these levels comes with some degree of flexibility.

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Levels of openness.jpg

Open data means that data and the metadata describing the data are findable and accessible in a data repository under a Creative Commons licence (e.g. CC BY licence). WUR has explicitly not chosen to include the public domain CC 0 license in its guidelines, in order to minimally acknowledge the scientific effort of the WUR researcher.

Restricted access to the data means that the metadata describing the data are findable and accessible in a data repository (under any CC licence). However, to access the data special conditions may apply. For example the reuser of the data must make himself known to you and explain for what purpose he wants access to the data. In some cases access to the data may require payment. If you share WUR data based on the restricted access conditions, ask for support to create a data sharing agreement with the data user.

Closed access to the data means that the data is not deposited in a data repository and only accessible in very special cases, for example for verification purposes (transparency) when e.g. scientific integrity is questioned. Metadata can most of the time be made findable and accessible in a data repository under a CC licence. There are some very rare cases (for example when metadata unavoidably includes personal data) where metadata is also closed. In this latter case metadata and data are solely accessible to the PI of the research and the management (Data Steward) of the group.

How to determine how to share data collected or created by WUR research

In the WUR data policy it is defined that WUR is the owner of the data created or collected under WUR contract by WUR researchers. However there might be third parties (like funders) who also claim (partial) ownership. WUR supports that data is shared ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’. The flowchart guides you with a couple of questions to the level of ‘openess’ in sharing data.

Infographic Data Sharing Guidelines

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How to share data when the original source data contain data from third parties (other than WUR)?

WUR has no say over these data. Although data ownership is a complex issue, WUR is no owner over third party data. Therefore, only the third party which provided the data can decide on data sharing. We strongly recommend that you make a Data Sharing agreement with each data delivering party, even if there are many, at the start of the project. We provide a framework for such an agreement which is created by WUR corporate legal. Please contact your local legal officer for assistance in customizing the framework for your research project, or ask for help at

Need support with sharing (archiving or publishing) data?

Ask for help with data sharing from or check for more information on ‘why and where to publish your data set’ and ‘publishing your data set in a repository'.

For more detailed information about sharing, but also ownerhsip and licences, visit the WUR Copyright Information Point (CIP).