Information for Researchers, No. 36 | June 2, 2015

Guidelines on the Handling of Research Data in Biodiversity Research

Subject-specific recommendations for handling research data

Subject-specific recommendations for handling research data

The possibility to use generated research data after the completion of a research project for secondary analyses plays an increasingly important role for a growing number of research areas.

For this reason, the DFG began in 2010 to require funding proposals for research projects and collaborations to include a description of the planned handling of the resulting research data. At the same time, the DFG has been promoting the development and expansion of infrastructure for research data in order to close existing gaps.

Early on, the Senate Commission on Biodiversity Research realised that this issue is particularly relevant for the research process in the biodiversity sciences, and therefore established a pertinent working group. In a first step, a comprehensive inventory of existing infrastructure approaches was taken, and an overview of the stakeholders was gained in the process. In a second step, data on experiences and needs were systematically collected with a survey of infrastructure operators and users. In 2010, the findings were published and put up for discussion. Since 2013, the previously defined target structure has been under construction, funded by the DFG. This new infrastructure, called GFBio, will offer a single point of access to relevant pre-existing infrastructures, along with analysis tools for research data and ways to support data management in research projects. In addition, the working group has drawn up guidelines for handling research data in biodiversity research. These guidelines are intended to specify the DFG’s general expectations regarding research-data reusability for this particular research area.

The review boards on “Plant Sciences” and “Zoology”, in which most biodiversity projects are comparatively evaluated, support this initiative, especially because it highlights the special value of these research data, which are typically based on complex environmental observations that are not fully repeatable. Going forward, review boards expect such project proposals to specify concrete plans for handling the research data generated by the project so as to make them reusable by other researchers. The guidelines provide useful support in this endeavour. It is recommended that applicants consult established data-service centres even when planning a project in order to take full advantage of existing solutions.

The guidelines are available at the following direct link:

Additional information on the handling of research data can be found at:

Website of the German Federation for Biological Data:

DFG contacts: