Digital scholarship blog

Enabling innovative research with British Library digital collections

25 August 2017

Announcing the new British Library Research Data Strategy

With the support of a Research Data Strategy since 2010, the Library has been active in services for research data for a number of years. This work has included European-funded projects such as ODE, ODIN and THOR; Providing the DataCite UK service and involvement in other activities such as data discovery and unlocking thesis data.

Since 2010 a lot has changed. Due to activities like DataCite or the FAIR Data Principles, data are now considered a first class research output. This has led to more researchers and organisations sharing their data and getting credit for it. As data become more widely available and better integrated into research workflows, services around data are key to the way the British Library needs to support research and business. This is already recognised in Living Knowledge, with data a priority to achieving the Library’s Research Purpose. With this changing landscape, we have re-evaluated our research data strategy in order to move forward with new services for research data.

British Library Research Data Strategy Outline Cover

Click the image to download the summary of the British Library Research Data Strategy 2017 (PDF, 13.4MB)













In the new Research Data Strategy, some things remain the same. We take a very broad definition of ‘research data’, based on the Open Data Concordat. We still exclude day-to-day management and administrative data. But some activities that the Library had previously excluded will now be considered as we move forward.

Our vision for the British Library is that research data are as integrated into our collections, research and services as text is today. The British Library's users will be able to consume research data online through tools that enable it to be analysed, visualised and understood by non-specialists. Research data will be integrated into our collections and shared storage hubs and we will deliver data from trusted external hosts. All will be easy to discover and linked to related research outputs, be they text, data or multimedia.

The new Research Data Strategy outlines the areas in which the Library's strengths could be applied to develop appropriate data activities and services to support this vision as well as the Living Knowledge ambition to be the most open, creative and innovative institution of its kind by the time of our 50th anniversary in 2023.

The strategy is structured around 4 central themes for the activities we will be taking forward. These themes and rough outlines of their content are given below.

Data Management

This element of the data strategy sets out the creation of a data management plan and process, enabling the British Library to meet its obligations under funding council data management planning requirements.

Data Creation

The British Library will create datasets derived from its collections, and support others as they create their own datasets derived from Library collections. The role of datasets in the development of the Library’s collections will also be considered.

Data Archiving and Preservation

Datasets collected and created by the Library will be archived and preserved in line with its other collections. This will also open up the possibility for the development of providing archiving services to third parties and sharing its lessons learned in dataset preservation.

Data Access, Discovery and Reuse

The Library will ensure appropriate discovery, access and reuse of the datasets it holds, as well as those available from third parties. This will require new models of access to data onsite and online. Access to secure data for BL researchers will also be investigated.

You can download a summary of the British Library’s new Research Data Strategy here: British Library Research Data Strategy Outline