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Report: Dataset Licensing Workshop – ‘Choose the Right Rights, Use the Data Right’

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Report: Dataset Licensing Workshop – ‘Choose the Right Rights, Use the Data Right’

By 3 May 2018No Comments

Post by Ally Farnhill, CREATe PhD Student and Graduate Teaching Assistant.

The recent Dataset Licensing workshop “Choose the Right Rights, Use the Data Right,” took place on Friday 6 April 2018 at the Hilton Grosvenor Hotel, Glasgow. The event saw professionals from a variety of backgrounds come together to discuss the crucial and complex area of research data licensing, with a focus on Open Access. The Dataset Licensing project is the result of a collaboration between CREATe, the Research Information Management team at the University of Glasgow, and JISC. The project aims to identify specific issues around the licensing of datasets, including the current move towards increasingly Open Access resources, and to facilitate deeper understanding and greater confidence in dealing with these complex issues.

The whole day workshop followed an earlier scoping event, and provided a valuable opportunity to review progress from December’s event, and discuss the issues in more depth. The workshop comprised four group sessions, during which attendees were encouraged to review a series of draft information sheets in their groups, in addition to two informative presentations.

Information guide feedback

The four group sessions allowed those in attendance to read and discuss the contents of a series of draft information sheets produced by the project team in response to the event in December. The aim was to test the drafts within the information sector community and clarify any questions or concerns. These sessions facilitated lively discussion and the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge between group members, prior to offering feedback. There was general consensus that the documents represented valuable guidance concerning how to navigate the web of data protection, copyright and privacy issues, which arise from managing or storing research datasets.

Key recommendations from the participants to improve the information guides included:

  • Clarity: group members agreed that providing a glossary of terms would be useful, particularly to explain legal terms which predominate discussions of copyright issues. These could build on existing resources such as the CASRAI dictionary. Placing simplified graphical representations of complex information at the beginning would also provide a more user-friendly introduction.
  • Content: the feedback suggested that more explanation of the legal issues around copyright protection are needed, specifically when conveying what is, and what is not, protect-able material. Although institutions are keen to promote Open Access licensing, more information on the broader range of licences users may encounter was requested.
  • User-friendly formats: attendees were able to provide useful feedback on how information could be provided in a user-friendly format. For example, online versions, drop-down menus and links to other, more comprehensive documents, would allow users to choose the level of information they needed, without necessarily having to read the document in its entirety. It would also allow readers to move around the sections that they most required, for their own particular needs, and to be pointed to more detailed resources.

Plenary sessions

In addition to the various group sessions, the event also featured two informative presentations. The first of these was delivered by Andrew McHugh from the Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) and included a discussion of the issues around licensing and data acquisition and use. In addition to explaining the role and the current work of the UBDC, Andrew highlighted some of the considerations that must be made when gathering, using or storing data, including the complex legal issues around privacy, data protection, sustainability and copyright. Andrew also emphasised the value of data acquisition, in addition to the value of planning ahead when considering licensing or sub-licensing options.

The second presentation of the event was delivered by Matt Mahon, Research Information Officer, University of Glasgow. This presentation focused on the use of licences, by both end users and depositors, highlighting some of the more technical concerns around what makes a good licence statement. Recounting the results of a recent survey, which reviewed the licence statements of circa. 20 repositories, Matt demonstrated some of the best examples of good practice, before opening the discussion to include the experiences of those attending. Examples were evaluated from the perspective of both the end user and the depositor.

This event provided an important opportunity for those in attendance to meet and discuss experiences, in addition to learning from each other’s individual areas of expertise.

Jisc and CREATe will open further consultation on the guidance provided at this event, and a follow up workshop will be advertised in due course.


This work was supported by Jisc [grant number DIINNAA]

We would like to express appreciation to all those who attended the workshop and contributed to the discussion.

Slides are available here