NIHR Open Access Policy and data

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) does not currently have a specific policy on research data or data sharing but does have an Open Access Policy which covers published peer-reviewed research articles and also underlying research materials such as data, samples and models. The NIHR Journals Library provides further guidance on data sharing.

"Making clinical trial data sets available to investigators beyond the original research team can improve patient care, advance medical knowledge and provide better value for money from health research.

Data generated through participation of patients and the public should be put to maximum use by the research community and, whenever possible, translated to deliver patient benefit. Data sharing benefits numerous research-related activities: reproducing analyses; testing secondary hypotheses; developing and evaluating novel statistical methods; teaching; aiding design of future trials; meta-analyses; and helping to prevent error, fraud and selective reporting."


A summary of the NIHR requirements for:

Data management plans

The NIHR does not require a data management plan to be submitted with the grant application but it does expect all NIHR researchers to prepare and submit a statement on how underlying research materials, such as data, samples or models, can be accessed. 

Help with costs

The NIHR does not explicitly address costs of data management, infrastructure or sharing.

Data deposit and retention

The policy states "Europe PMC provides a permanent and free-to-access online digital archive of the full text, peer reviewed research publications (and datasets) that arise from research funded by DH, the NIHR and other members of Europe PMC's Funders Group."

The policy does not specify how long data must be retained for. In this case the University of York Research Data Management Policy requires data to be retained for at least 10 years.

If you have deposited or intend to deposit data from your study into a data repository or archive, you should "supply the URL so that the link to the archived data can be displayed on the NIHR Journals Library website alongside your published report."

Data access and sharing

Although the NIHR expects researchers to consider and plan for data access, the policy does not require that the data must be made open.

The Data sharing guidance provided by NIHR refers to issues of confidentiality and anonymity, and states “For research involving samples or information from human participants, data must be managed and shared in a way which safeguards the confidentiality and anonymity of participants and is consistent with the terms of consent signed by participants. Data sharing does not necessarily mean public access. Data can be shared on request or via registration if deposited in an archive.”

Data access statements

The NIHR does not currently require a data access statement within a publication, but its guidance states... "Your final report should include a statement about your data sharing and accessibility. The statement should provide a clear and positive indication of where and when the data will be shared. Possible responses might state that all available data:

  • Can be obtained from the corresponding author.
  • Is included as an appendix to the report.
  • Can be obtained from the corresponding author via the (name of) repository."

Policy last checked: January 2017

Further sources of help