UKCEH science infrastructures are largely financed by the public sector to power world-class research and innovation in the UK, and UKCEH is committed to making them as openly accessible as possible.
Our commitment to open access is constrained only by practical issues.
- Physical access to UKCEH science infrastructures must balance issues such: as finite capacity; multiple users; funding limitations; and landowner or regulatory permissions.
- Timely access to knowledge and data generated by UKCEH science infrastructures must balance issues such as: data quality assurance; time to process, analyse and publish data and knowledge.
UKCEH aims to balance and manage these issues fairly and transparently, in line with our commitment to open science and guided by the policies and expectations of our public sector funders.
Users and uses of UKCEH science infrastructures include:
- The UK research community, including researchers at UKCEH, other research institutes and universities.
- Users of environmental data such as government departments, policy-makers and agencies; environmental NGOs and charities; business and industry.
Researchers participating in science programmes funded through national capability generally have first priority in using UKCEH infrastructures and their outputs. Nevertheless, we aim to accommodate other users and uses as much as possible.
Users may access UKCEH infrastructures as partners and collaborators in science programmes, or to carry out research independently of UKCEH.
UKCEH owns and operates diverse science infrastructures, often in partnership with other agencies, almost always on land owned by others, and all subject to legal and regulatory frameworks. Reasonable management arrangements are necessary to manage and balance issues such as:
- Finite capacity, eg: space; volume; time; technical support; service provision.
- Multiple uses and users, including: National Capability science programmes; other research; UKCEH and external users; innovation; maintenance.
- Permissions, eg: UKCEH infrastructure managers; landowners and site access.
- Accreditations, eg: training, qualifications and licences required to operate facilities.
- Legal requirements and risk assessments, eg: legal liabilities; health & safety; insurance; environmental impact; ethics; reputation; data protection; supervision; etc.
- How much UKCEH support is needed to enable users; eg expertise, advice, supervision, technical support and operation.
- Data management
- Costs (see below).
To address these issues, potential users of UKCEH science infrastructures must work with UKCEH to plan and manage their access.
Charging for use
Our primary aim is to enable as much open science as possible within our finite capacity: to advance the frontiers of science for long-term benefit, in the spirit of collaboration.
Existing public finance enables UKCEH to operate science infrastructures for defined national programmes, but does not support a fully open or free community service.
As a charitable organisation and a receiver of public funding, UKCEH has a duty to ensure that: funds are used for the purpose they were awarded; any additional costs are recovered; and the costs of access are transparent and fair to UKCEH, our funders and our users. We are a not-for-profit research institute.
UKCEH will work with users to identify the costs for physical access including direct project costs, indirect costs of UKCEH support, and the costs of any new capability to be developed. These costs must then be included in any funding application or business plan, so that the user is able to pay them.
In line with open data policies, access to the raw data generated by UKCEH Science Infrastructures is generally open and free of charge, though UKCEH may charge for additional services such as bespoke data collation and information products.
As described above, UKCEH will:
- Plan, manage and operate Science Infrastructures to enable world-class research and innovation in the UK.
- Make our science infrastructures as openly accessible as possible, in line with existing policies and balancing practical constraints.
- Work in partnership with users to plan and provide open, fair, science-led and high-quality access, service standards and user charges.
Given the complexities of accessing and using UKCEH Science Infrastructures, prospective users are expected to work in partnership with UKCEH to:
- Discuss potential requirements, feasibility, availability, costs and scheduling with UKCEH as early as possible in your planning, and in advance of submitting proposals for research funding.
- Comply with relevant legal requirements, policies, permissions, guidance and expectations (see ‘managed access’ above). This includes helping to maintain goodwill with land owners where science infrastructures are located.
- Acknowledge UKCEH plus other relevant providers and funders of science infrastructure and data in any publications, reports and information products. This is important to help justify and secure future public funding for these national capabilities.