New OECD Guidelines on Research Ethics and New Forms of Data

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The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published new Guidelines on Research Ethics and New Forms of Data for social and economic research, in light of the quickly-changing technological, communications’ and social context of data discovery, use and dissemination. The OECD Global Science Forum expert group – supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and the US National Science Foundation – issued the following statement:

“New kinds of data are rapidly becoming available in massive quantities, providing a record of the transactions we carry out, the communications we make and other social and economic activities. These data offer significant potential for research, with the possibility of new insights and benefits to society, health and the economy. Although these new forms of data provide exciting possibilities for future research, using them also presents ethical and practical challenges – the risk of disclosure of identities, the ethics of using such data in research and reputational risks for organisations collecting or creating data.”

The OECD identifies eight “basic rules for the ethical collection, sharing, and research use of New Forms of Data – listed on pp.6-7 of the document: Research Ethics and New Forms of Data for Social and Economic Research (OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, #34, OECD, Paris, 2016).


Further information about research ethics regarding data discovery, use and sharing are in Section #2 of the 2016 EUI Library Research Data Guide (4th ed) published on 28 October.

Micro-socioeconomic data access and use.

Special terms and conditions apply to access and use of micro-socioeconomic data, reflecting the sensitive nature of data observations about individuals, families and households. Such terms and conditions apply to both (i) micro data hosted by the Library for EUI members and (ii) micro data hosted by third-parties provided directly to EUI members under individual license. Terms and conditions for each micro dataset are given in the ‘full details’ section of the resource pages on the Library web site.

Micro data users must preserve the confidentiality of observations pertaining to dataset subjects: individuals, families and households. Users must not attempt to identify any individual or other data subject in the dataset. Micro data users must also comply with any post-project data destruction undertakings in the license.

EUI members must use the Library micro data access form when applying for access to micro-socio economic data hosted by the Library by (i) Selecting one dataset from the drop-down menu (a separate form is required for each dataset) (ii) Signing the EUI paper form ‘Terms and Conditions of Use of Micro Data Provided by the EUI Library’ (iii) Signing the data provider’s terms and conditions paper form. Forms can be signed at the Economics Information Office (Badia Library, 085) or at the Economics Departmental Library (Villa La Fonte). For access to some datasets, providers require parallel application procedures. In some cases (eg. Eurostat) it is necessary to present a project proposal when applying for access to micro data.

There is no off-campus access, VPN access, or laptop access to micro-socioeconomic data hosted by the EUI Library. Non-EUI members and short-term visitors do not have access to EUI-hosted micro data, and should contact their institution’s data librarian, statistics manager, or data publishers directly for information about access at their home institutions.

License agreements:

The use of data provided by the EUI Library is subject to license agreements, copyright terms and data protection provisions. Full details are on the Library’s Terms and Conditions page. Data users are individually responsible for compliance with terms of access and use. Violation of terms and conditions puts at risk other EUI members’ future access to data resources. All users are requested to scrupulously abide by the terms and conditions of access to, and use of, data. Open data, freely accessible via internet, are also subject to terms and conditions of use and restrictions on re-publishing.

Under the EUI Library’s license agreements for data resources: Users may not distribute or allow any other party to have access to data which is provided under license; users may not modify or create a derivative work of the licensed materials without the permission of the licensor; users may not remove, obscure or modify any copyright or other proprietary notices included in licensed materials; users may not use licensed materials for commercial purposes; users may not retain or distribute substantial portions of a database, and must comply with any post-project data destruction undertakings in the license. The University of Michigan maintains a database of data user agreements.

Please contact the Library to arrange a research data appointment: [email protected]


The EUI Data Portal provides access to a comprehensive collection of macroeconomic and micro-socioeconomic data resources. All 75 resources in the EUI Data Portal have an information guide with (i) Data description, (ii) Time coverage, (iii) Support links; eg. user networks, online manuals, software tools &c., and (iv) Instructions on how to access.

Macroeconomic Data: National, regional and global economic statistics are available from major providers, including Thomson Reuters, Eurostat, IMF, World Bank, OECD, ECB, WIIW, UN and many others.

Micro-socioeconomic Data: Individual, family, household and firm level data are available from Eurostat, GESIS, ICPSR, Bureau van Dijk, UKDS, DIW and many others. Micro-socioeconomic data is subject to special registration requirements. EUI members should complete the micro data registration form (selecting the required dataset from the drop-down menu) and; sign two conditions of use agreements at the Economics Information Office (Badia Fiesolana, 085) or at the Economics Departmental Library information desk (Villa La Fonte, 2ndfloor). Detailed instructions are given on each micro data resource page under ‘How to access.’

Online research software manuals. Paper manuals are available in the 001-005 shelf range at the Badia Library and the Economics Departmental Library (Villa La Fonte).

European, European Union and Euro Area statistical databases

For support, contact Thomas Bourke at [email protected]