Costing data management activities
Data management not only has an impact on the project planning, but also on the project budget, because all the related activities can incur costs.
Therefore, researchers are strongly encouraged to take these activities into account when preparing a funding application as the related costs are considered as eligible by many funders. Although it could be a hard task, the following actions can help to assess the cost implication:
- Analyse research data management costs incurred in previous projects and use it as a basis for future planning
- Plan the data management early enough in order to reduce the costs
- Identify data management activities to be performed in your project and estimate the resources needed to perform them (staff time, HR costs, training, storage space…)
According to the High Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud, on average about 5% of research expenditure should be spent to ensure a proper data management and stewardship.
To identify which research data management activities should be weighted in the cost estimation.
This overview, based on the UK Data Management Costing Tool (UK Data Service) and on the Data Management Cost Guide (Utrecht University), is intended as guidance to formulate a more detailed project budget.
- Make a Data Management Plan (time cost)
1. Data Collection
- Acquiring external databases and software (e.g.: licence cost)
- Formatting and organising data (e.g.: HR cost)
- Transcription (e.g.: time cost)
- Consent for data sharing (e.g.: HR cost)
- Data transfer (e.g.: software cost)
2. Data documentation
- Data description and metadata (e.g.: time, HR cost)
- Documentation (e.g.: HR cost)
3. Data storage and back-up
- Data back-up (e.g.: cost for institutional solutions)
- Data storage (e.g.: cost for institutional solutions)
4. Data access and security
- Data access
- Data security
5. Data preservation and archiving
- File format (e.g.: HR cost)
- Access to LTP and data repository
6. Data sharing and reuse
- Anonymization (e.g.: HR cost)
- Copyright (e.g.: juridical advice)
- Data sharing (e.g.: time cost + ev. data repository cost)
- Data cleaning (e.g.: HR cost + ev. data cleaning service cost)
It is important to avoid double funding as some of this expenditure (especially those related to data storage and back-up) could be included in the indirect costs.
Eligible costs – Funders’ regulations
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
As of October 2017, researchers applying for a SNSF grant will have to:
- Include a data management plan (DMP) in their funding application
- Make data generated by funded projects publicly accessible in non-commercial, digital databases (unless they are bound by legal, ethical, copyright, confidentiality or other clauses)
The SNSF will contribute to the costs related to data archiving (included data preparation), if the research data is deposited in FAIR, digital, recognized and not for profit repositories. It is allowed to upload data to commercial repositories, but in this case only the data preparation costs will be covered by the SNSF.
Costs eligibility conditions are detailed in the article 2.13 of the General implementation regulations for the Funding Regulations.
2.13 – Material costs: costs of data storage and providing access to data (open data)
- The costs of enabling access to research data that was collected, observed or generated under an SNSF grant are eligible if the following requirements are met:
- the research data is deposited in recognised scientific, digital data archives (data repositories) that meet the FAIR principles and do not serve any commercial purpose.
- the costs are specifically related to the preparation of research data in view of its archiving, and to the archiving itself in data repositories pursuant to letter a.
- All costs charged to the grant must be linked to archiving of data that is thematically related to research that was funded by the SNSF.
- The maximum charge per grant is generally CHF 10,000.
- The costs must be taken into account at the time of submission of the application. Other requirements set by the SNSF concerning the accessibility of research data must be met during the submission of the application in mySNF. This holds in particular for the submission of a data management plan (DMP).
Horizon 2020 (including ERC grants)
In Horizon 2020, the European Research and Innovation funding programme, open access to scientific publication and research data is an obligation for all beneficiaries, as set out in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement. The related costs are therefore considered as eligible by the European Commission to support researchers in complying with these requirements, ensuring the necessary resources and the budgetary planning.
The eligibility for reimbursement during the duration of the project is defined in the Model Grant Agreement mainly in the Article 6 (Eligible and ineligible costs), and more specifically in the clause 6.2.D.3.
6.2.D.3 – Specific conditions for costs to be eligible – Other direct costs
Costs of other goods and services (including related duties, taxes and charges such as non-deductible value added tax (VAT) paid by the beneficiary) are eligible, if they are:
(a) purchased specifically for the action and in accordance with Article 10.1.1 or
(b) contributed in kind against payment and in accordance with Article 11.1.
Such goods and services include, for instance, consumables and supplies, dissemination (including open access), protection of results, certificates on the financial statements (if they are required by the Agreement), certificates on the methodology, translations and publications.
This budget category covers the costs for goods and services that were purchased for the action (or contributed in-kind against payment), including […]:
- dissemination costs (including regarding open access to peer-reviewed scientific publications, e.g. article processing or equivalent charges, costs related to open access to research data and related costs, such as data maintenance or storage and conference fees for presenting project-related research)
Specific cases (costs for other goods and services) […]:
- Plan for the exploitation and dissemination of results — Costs for drawing up the plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results are normally NOT eligible since they will have been incurred before the start of the action, to prepare the proposal. Costs that occur when revising or implementing this plan may be eligible.
- Open access — Costs related to open access to peer-reviewed scientific publications and research data are eligible, if the eligibility conditions are fulfilled. With explicit agreement by the Commission/Agency, it can also include fees levied for a membership scheme (if this is a requirement for publishing in open access or if membership is a pre-condition for significantly lower article processing charges).
Specific costs at EPFL
The EPFL Library team can support you in the cost evaluation process. For some activities, as for example the active data management, the storage, as well as the data deposition in a repository or publication in a journal, the EPFL provides tools and infrastructure or financial support.
The Research Office provides also a tailored budget calculator for different funding programs. More information are available in the Research Funding webpage (Gaspar login needed).
Feel free to contact us to get more information on these options and the related costs: [email protected].