Data Policy for MIMS

(The Marine Information Management System)

  1.         Policy Principles

The principles on which this data policy is founded are based on and influenced by the legal and administrative framework governing the operations of the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry: Oceans and Coasts branch. Numerous policy documents, Acts of Parliament, and approved development programmes provide for the open dissemination and availability of information and data, especially in terms of information collected and held using public funds. These documents and initiatives include the Constitution, the National Environmental Management of the Oceans whitepaper, the National Environmental Management Act, the Promotion of Access to Information Act, and the Operation Phakisa presidential initiative, amongst others. In addition, South Africa is member and signatory to international policies and bodies, such as the International Ocean Data Exchange, that advocate and encourage free and open access to data. The collection of good quality ocean data deserves recognition, in the form of citations or co-authorship on papers, beyond a brief mention in the Acknowledgments section of papers.

This policy may be changed from time to time in accordance with national legislation, international agreements and departmental policy. The overriding principles guiding this policy are enshrined in the Constitution and should not change.

  2.         Objectives of the Policy

The objectives of the Policy are:

2.1. To facilitate access to all marine data and information accessioned in MIMS.

2.2. To develop mechanisms to facilitate discovery, access, and analysis of data held in MIMS.

2.3. To encourage voluntary disclosure, automatic availability and the maximum scientific utility of coastal and oceanic environmental information records.

2.4. To enable proper citation and monitoring of use.

  3.         Organisational Context

3.1. The Chief Directorate: Oceans and Coastal Research operates the Marine Information Management System (MIMS). The System is comprised of the software and hardware implementations, the personnel and standard operating procedures which support the functions necessary to promote the long-term preservation and maximise the scientific utility of ocean and coastal data in South Africa.

  4.         Legislative and Regulatory Framework

The following sections provide a short overview of the legal and regulatory framework that informs data management within the Directorate:

4.1.         Constitution of the Republic of South Africa

Section 32(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act, No. 108 of 1996 provides that everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state and any information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.

4.2.         Environmental Data Management Policy of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE)

The Environmental Data Management Policy (EDMP) for DFFE provides guidelines on processes and procedures to be adhered to when managing environmental data. The content of the EDMP is guided by the South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF). The EDMP states that all environmental datasets produced and collected by the DFFE shall be managed in accordance with the data management principles contained in section 14(6) of the Statistics Act (Act No. 6 of 1999).

4.3.         National Environmental Management Act (Act No. 107 of 1998)

The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) states that every person is entitled to information held by state organs which relates to any law that pertains to the environment.

4.4.         Promotion of Access to Information Act (Act No. 2 of 2000)

The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) gives effect to the constitutional right of access to any information held by the State and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any right.

4.4.1. Access to data and information from MIMS shall be implemented in line with the DFFE PAIA Manual of 2012.

4.4.2. MIMS shall implement Open Access to, and voluntary disclosure of, certain environmental information in accordance with section 15 of PAIA as stipulated in section 4 of the DFFE PAIA Manual of 2012.

4.5.         Protection of Personal Information Act (Act No. 4 of 2013)

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) gives effect to the constitutional right to privacy, by safeguarding personal information when processed by a responsible party, subject to justifiable limitations that are aimed at:

i. balancing the right to privacy against other rights, particularly the right of access to information; and

ii. protecting important interests, including the free flow of information within the Republic and across international borders.

The POPI Act further regulates the manner in which personal information may be processed, by establishing conditions, in harmony with international standards, that prescribe the minimum threshold requirements for the lawful processing of personal information.

4.6.         South African Spatial Data Infrastructure Act (Act No. 54 of 2003)

The South African Spatial Data Infrastructure (SASDI) Act establishes the national technical, institutional and policy framework to facilitate the capture, management, maintenance, integration, distribution and use of spatial information. Sections 11 to 18 of the SASDI Act stipulate that data custodians should capture and maintain spatial datasets on behalf of the general public.

  5.         Data Covered by this Policy

All digital scientific data that are archived, embargoed and published in MIMS are covered by this policy.

For purposes of this policy, digital scientific data are defined as the digital recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings including: datasets used to support scholarly publications, cruise reports and instrument logsheets, but not including: laboratory notebooks, preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer review reports, communications with colleagues, or physical objects, such as laboratory specimens. The focus of MIMS’ holdings are digital scientific data which are unclassified with respect to the Protection of Information Act, 1982. To maximise their impact as a public good, digital scientific data which result from research or monitoring activity supported wholly or in part by National funding should be stored and publicly accessible to search, retrieve, and interpret.

   6.         Scope of Application

6.1.         MIMS shall:

6.1.1. Strive to maximise access, by the general public and without charge, to digitally formatted ocean and coastal data created with national funds and of national or regional interest, while: protecting confidentiality and personal privacy, recognising proprietary interests, business confidential information, and intellectual property rights and avoiding significant negative impact on intellectual property rights, innovation, and national competitiveness, and preserving a balance between the relative value of long-term preservation and access and the associated cost and administrative burden;

6.1.2. Encourage researchers receiving national grants and contracts for scientific research and intramural researchers to develop data management plans describing how they will provide for long-term preservation of, and access to, the digital scientific data resulting from nationally funded research;

6.1.3. Promote the deposit of data in publicly accessible databases, where appropriate and available;

6.1.4. Develop approaches for identifying and providing appropriate attribution to scientific datasets; and

6.1.5. Provide for the assessment of long-term needs for the preservation of scientific data in fields that the agency supports and outline options for developing and sustaining repositories for scientific data in digital formats, taking into account the efforts of public and private sector entities.

6.2.         Implementation of the Policy Objectives

6.2.1. A Marine Information Management System (MIMS) will be implemented that will: preserve data for the long term, i.e., adhere to Open Access Information System – Reference Model (OAIS; ISO-14721) standards in terms of data storage, preservation, and backup and strive to adhere to the ISO-16363 standard for a Trusted Digital Repository; adhere to following appropriate standards of data and metadata formats, such as ISO-19115 or SANS-1878 for geographical spatial data. As far as possible appropriate international standards will be adhered to where these have been established for particular datasets or types; serve and deliver data digitally and automatically to the maximum extent possible to avoid inefficient use of DFFE personnel time and effort; serve data in such a way that they are discoverable and extractable by the end-user without DFFE personnel intervention; provide data and metadata in standard formats as required to upstream aggregators, such as SAEON and OCIMS, and the BCC; and Support OAI-PMH to support the aggregation of metadata by linked repositories.

   7.         Data Access

7.1.         External Access

7.1.1.         External data may be hosted by MIMS on behalf of Data Providers.  Such data may have restrictions placed on it as stipulated by the Data Provider. MIMS is a trusted broker of scientific data and will thus respect the conditions stipulated by the Data Provider, but will also encourage the reasonable release of data to the public.

7.1.2.         External data will fall into the following categories:         Open: Data will be available freely, openly and without restrictions;         Sensitive: Data that will not be released due to copyright agreements, local or international law and environmentally sensitive content. Some examples of Sensitive data restrictions may include: locations of rare and endangered species, data that are covered under prior licensing or copyright, or data where the protection of individual privacy is involved. In the interests of environmental responsibility MIMS reserves the right to restrict data as Sensitive, even if the Data Provider does not stipulate it; or         Embargoed: Data will only be made available to the public by the Data Provider after a defined period of time. Until the data are made Open, permission to use these data will be given directly by the Data Provider. MIMS will not archive embargoed datasets indefinitely and therefore encourages the Data Providers to place reasonable release restrictions on such datasets. The recommended embargo period is a maximum of 36 months. The embargo can be renewed on request with a motivation.

7.1.3. External data will be accepted at the discretion of the MIMS Advisory Committee.

7.1.4. MIMS will preserve: all raw data and digitised copies of sample collection sheets, field log books, and the like, shall be preserved with the final dataset; the final dataset; all intermediate revisions that are submitted; and all digital objects with DOIs.

7.1.5. Data must be provided with as complete metadata as possible, in a MIMS-compliant standard. The MIMS default standards are SANS-1878/ISO-19115 for geographical spatial data, and Darwin Core for biological data.

7.2.         Acknowledgement and Accreditation

7.2.1. To allow proper accrediting and acknowledgment all MIMS accessions will be assigned unique accession numbers for identification. Some accessions will additionally be assigned persistent identifiers in the form of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) by an accredited body such as DataCite through SAEON. DOIs can then be used in bibliographies and reference lists to give appropriate credit to data providers.

7.2.2. To ensure that correct action is taken on the system in respect of data publication, a license will be applied to all MIMS accessions. To promote fair data sharing, the Creative Commons ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license will be applied by default if data provider license information is not provided. The license allows others to copy, adapt and redistribute the data in any medium or format, provided that they distribute the new material under the same license as the original.

7.2.3. A custom or restricted license may be requested from the data provider if an open license cannot be applied to the accession due to ethical reasons, commercial value, or government classification.

7.2.4. In order to download MIMS data, data consumers must accept an agreement to properly cite those data (e.g., text will be presented which must be accepted before the download initiates). In addition, the acceptance of the following Acknowledgment statement will be required:

These data are made available with the express understanding that any such use will properly acknowledge the originator(s) and publisher and cite the accession numbers and/or associated Digital Object Identifiers. Anyone wishing to use these data should properly cite and attribute the data providers listed as authors in the metadata provided with each dataset. It is expected that all the conditions of the data license will be strictly honoured. Use of any material herein should be properly cited using the dataset’s persistent identifiers such as accession numbers and DOIs.

   8.         User Agreement

8.1. Submission of data requires that the Data Provider register on the MIMS Repository. This allows MIMS to contact the Data Provider with information about the progress of the data submission. The following information is required before a Data Provider may submit data:

    • Name
    • Affiliation
    • Email address
    • Acceptance of the MIMS Terms of Use

MIMS’ use of such personal information is covered by the MIMS Privacy Statement

8.2. Limitation of Liability:

8.2.1. While every reasonable effort will be made to maintain current and accurate information on MIMS, DFFE accepts no responsibility for direct or indirect damage arising from the use or inability to use the data and information accessed from MIMS.

8.2.2. Where appropriate, links to external sites will be provided for the User’s convenience. DFFE is not responsible for the content or reliability of linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in them. Linking shall not be taken as endorsement of any kind. DFFE cannot guarantee that these links will work at all times and has no control over the availability of the linked sites or pages.

8.2.3. MIMS provides metadata descriptions of and links to its own data and that of others in the community of practice, in the belief that this will be useful in support of Open Access to scientific publications and data. DFFE cannot be held responsible for the quality of data provided by third parties, and while MIMS will take reasonable care in curating these datasets, the content of both metadata and data is under control of the third-party provider.

8.2.4. The MIMS repository and its contents are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis and have not been compiled or supplied to meet the User’s individual requirements.