Guidelines for Sharing Data on COVID-19

Publication Year: 24. 11. 2020    Date of last inspection: 24. 11. 2020

Within the Research Data Alliance (RDA), working groups from different research areas have prepared recommendations for fast access to properly prepared research data on COVID-19. Clinical, genome, epidemiological and social science data were highlighted. Key points include the identification of study topics within each research area that can help solve the crisis-related problems and provide data for well-informed decisions that will mitigate the consequences of the crisis. The wide selection of topics for the social sciences covers several disciplines, ranging from economy, demography, and geography to psychology and pedagogy, contributing to the mitigation of consequences and to the resources for decision-makers. Topics are among others related to protection and minimization of contact, life quality, inequality of exposure to risk; opinions, beliefs and trust regarding content and political or professional representation during the epidemic; changes in workplaces and employment, education, healthcare, crime, etc.

Recommendations for social sciences

To achieve quality standards, following principles should be considered when planning and preparing data for reuse:

  • At the start of the project, a Data Management Plan that follows FAIR principles should be prepared.
  • Ethical and legal framework should be followed in regard to consent of the participants, anonymisation, licences, and other potential restrictions to data access.
  • Data must be organised and clean to be ready for reuse. Its content should be labelled and should follow standard classifications for interoperability and reuse.
  • Integrity of metadata should be ensured, metadata standards (DDI for social sciences) and controlled vocabularies must be followed, comprehensive documentation should be provided.
  • Appropriate provisions for storage and access to data should be determined.
  • Journals should require that data on COVID-19 is available in public data archives.

Regardless of the type of data or the research area, the common highlight of the guidelines is to provide fast access to data and tools while also assuring the quality of the collected data, keeping appropriate documentation on the methods applied in the data collection phase, following the provenance of data, cleaning it, and performing other tasks that will contribute to reuse. To ensure this, data should be deposited in the “trustworthy” repositories, where they will be ingested with a fast-track procedure as long as they are at least minimally equipped. Data on the pandemic will thus be available for reuse as fast as possible.

Guidelines also present some general principles for all research areas, such as inclusion of the community and indigenous peoples, sharing software and analysis scripts, as well as ethical and legal considerations.

RDA COVID-19 Working Group. Recommendations and Guidelines on data sharing. Research Data Alliance, 2020. DOI:

  How to cite this page?

Social Science Data Archives. YEAR. Guidelines for Sharing Data on COVID-19. Accessed: (DD. month year).


European Social Survey 2004, NSD

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