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Durham University

Research and Innovation Services

Research Data Management Policy

Version: 3.0

Effective from: 1st August 2017

Approval date: 20th June 2017

Approved by: Senate


Download a pdf
of the policy

1.0 Context

As a leading research institution, Durham University recognises the value of research data as a key institutional asset. To maximise the academic value of research data, many funders also mandate research data management, requiring that data is managed according to good practice appropriate to the discipline concerned, to facilitate validation, retrieval, re-use, sharing, and access. The University is committed to managing this data throughout its lifecycle, in a manner compatible with the best interests of the institution, its researchers and research participants, and its ethical, legal and contractual requirements.

2.0 Scope

This policy applies to any data that is created and / or processed in the course of Research for which the University is the Sponsor or is otherwise responsible. This includes but is not limited to research carried out by University employees, students and individuals undertaking work in the University’s name.

The overarching principles in this policy also apply to data created and / or processed in the course of other activities in scope of the Work with Outside Bodies Policy, including Consultancy, Services for outside bodies, Research Commercialisation, and other Impact, Collaboration, Exchange and Engagement Activities (see Work with Outside Bodies Policy, Appendix One for definitions).

Where management or use of data is subject to specific contractual terms, these will take precedence over the general requirements of this policy.

3.0 Research Data Governance

The Research Data Management Policy and the services it describes provide support and guidance for researchers and support staff to allow them to create and manage data in a manner compliant with the obligations placed on them.

Senate has ultimate responsibility for Research Data Management in the University. Practical responsibility for research data is devolved to the Research Data Service, which reports to Research Committee (with dotted line reporting to Education Committee).

Through a Research Data Service, the University will provide a single point of contact, expertise and support for researchers.

4.0 Data Management Requirements and Responsibilities

Operational responsibility for effective data management lies with project leads/principal investigators (PIs). However, all individuals, including postgraduate and undergraduate students, have a responsibility for effective management of the data they create, process, or manage.

PIs are responsible for ensuring that all members of the team are aware of their responsibilities and the requirements for effective data management.

PIs may delegate the responsibilities outlined in this policy within their project team, provided that this is clearly documented and the delegates are capable of discharging their responsibilities.

4.1. Planning

Consideration should be given to appropriate arrangements for managing project data, including appropriate procedures for collection, storage, use, re-use, access, retention and eventual destruction. This will normally take the form of a data management plan, however for some projects, e.g. UG / PGT projects, a short data statement will suffice.

4.1.1. PI Responsibilities

PIs are responsible for:

a) Preparing and maintaining a clear research data management plan, detailing how project data will be handled throughout the data lifecycle. The University’s standard format should be used (unless the funder had mandated the use of their own).

b) Ensuring that any ethical, IP, contractual or data licensing and sharing issues have been considered and appropriate agreements put in place before work begins.

c) Ensuring that data security and storage requirements, taking into account requirements for archiving and long-term curation, have been costed and secured.

4.1.2. Research Data Service Responsibilities

The Research Data Service is responsible for:

a) Providing an Institutional Data Management Plan template and supporting guidance

b) Negotiating and executing appropriate data sharing and legal agreements

c) Providing a clear costing framework for research data

d) Providing advice, support and training

4.2. Storage and Management

All project data and records (whether digital or non-digital) should be:

a) Accurate, complete, authentic and reliable;
b) Held (and shared) in a manner compatible with consent and permissions;
c) Identifiable, retrievable, and available when needed;
d) Secure and safe, in line with applicable information security standards;
e) Kept in a manner compliant with the project’s legal, ethical and funding obligations;
f) Maintained in a manner that facilitates reproduction and re-use;
g) Converted to an appropriate electronic format (if this can reasonably be achieved).

4.2.1. PI Responsibilities

PIs are responsible for ensuring that:

a) All data created or processed as a result of research activity is stored and managed in compliance with this policy and the research data management plan.

b) Research data is:

    1. registered with the University irrespective of where it is stored;
    2. stored securely in a format appropriate to the data and supporting interoperability;
    3. named or labelled in a manner that enables identification, discovery and (if appropriate) re-use;
    4. backed up / protected in accordance with institutional policy and requirements for preservation.

4.2.2. Research Data Service Responsibilities

The Research Data Service is responsible for:

a) Facilitating the secure storage of data through the provision of access to appropriate data storage

b) Providing a data catalogue for the registration of data location

c) Providing training, guidance and standards for the storage, labelling, management and preservation of data.

4.3. Deposit, Access and Re-use

Research data should be deposited in an appropriate repository before publication of related findings, with appropriate metadata including a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

Data should remain accessible to the project team and where appropriate their collaborators and funders for the duration of its archive period. The University also maintains a right to access data for the purposes of audit and verification.

Researchers are encouraged to consider the extent or manner in which Research data may be made more widely available where this is deemed to be of value to the University, for example in fulfilling funder requirements or extending the reach or impact of the Research. This must take into account any ethical (including consent, privacy and confidentiality) or contractual (including IP, legal, regulatory or funding) considerations precluding its release. Data collectors and / or owners must be appropriately acknowledged in any re-use of data.

4.3.1. PI Responsibilities

PIs are responsible for:

a) Ensuring that the metadata for data underpinning published research findings is accessible online no later than the first date of publication of the output (of whatever type), unless variation is required by contract, making data accessible where appropriate.

b) Registering the location of their research data with the University.

c) Including data access statements within publications detailing how and on what terms data may be accessed, including acknowledgement of data collectors and owners as appropriate.

d) Preparing data to ensure anonymity of any participants prior to data release.

e) Sharing data where this is ethical, legal and appropriate.

4.3.2. Research Data Service Responsibilities

The Research Data Service is responsible for:

a) Providing clear metadata standards

b) Providing a research data catalogue to record data location

c) Providing template data access statements

d) Providing training, advice and standards on data sharing

4.4. Retention

All source Research data should be held for 10 years from the publication date of the Research results (in the case of data supporting a publication), the end of the project (in the case of funded project data) or the end of active data collection (in the case of other data). The University may set a different retention period if any of the following apply:

a) the data is governed by a contract or ethical consideration which stipulates a different retention period;

b) the University requires retention of the data for a different period;

c) the research underpins a patent or other commercial output;

d) the data is unreproducible or has other long-term value.

4.4.1. PI Responsibilities

PIs are responsible for:

a) Identifying and preserving all their research data (whether shareable or not) that would be required to validate published research findings in the future.

b) Planning for the curation and management of their data after project completion

c) Making the University aware of any requirement for variation to the standard retention period at the time of deposit.

4.4.2. Research Data Service Responsibilities

The Research Data Service is responsible for:

a) Providing best practice advice on data preservation and curation.

b) Maintaining a research data catalogue

4.5. Disposal and Destruction

The destruction of data shall be undertaken in accordance with the data management plan, the sensitivity of the data concerned, and current best practice for the destruction of data.

Metadata shall include the date and reason of data deletion and shall not be deleted.

4.5.1. PI Responsibilities

PIs are responsible for:

a) Providing an accurate and approved date for destruction to the University.

b) Ensuring that data held in any non-University repository is destroyed according to the agreed schedule, and updating the University data catalogue with the date of destruction.

4.5.2. Research Data Service Responsibilities

The Research Data Service is responsible for:

a) The scheduled destruction of registered data held within the University repository

5.0 Ownership of Research Data

Ownership of research data is defined in the University’s Intellectual Property Policy.

6.0 Compliance

Failure to implement good data management may expose researchers to funder sanction and / or to research misconduct allegations, which will be investigated in line with the University’s research misconduct procedures. More generally, failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may be regarded as a disciplinary matter and subject to the University’s disciplinary procedures.