Research Data and Materials Management Policy

Document Number000869
Date Approved3 December 2008

1.      Introduction

This document supports the principles governing the management of research data and primary materials articulated in the University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy. It should be read in conjunction with that policy and the provisions of the following documents: Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (NHMRC 2007) and the University’s Research Data and Materials Management Procedure.

2.      Policy Intent

This policy is intended to outline the role of researchers, Heads of School, Heads of Research Centres and Primary Investigators in the management of research data and primary materials.

3.      Definitions

In the context of this policy:

primary investigator means the lead researcher;

primary materials means physical objects acquired through a process of scholarly investigation from which research data may be derived.  It includes ore, biological material, questionnaires or recordings etc;

research data means data as facts, observations, computer results, measurements or experiences on which an argument, theory or test is based. Data may be numerical, descriptive or visual. Data may be raw or analysed, experimental or observational. It includes laboratory notebooks, as well as any other records including computer code that are necessary for the reconstruction and evaluation of reported results of research and the events and processes leading to those results, regardless of the form or the media on which they may be recorded;

University researcher means anyone undertaking or piloting research in association or affiliation with the University of Newcastle including students and research higher degree candidates.

4.      Ownership of Research Data and Primary Materials

Unless owned by a third party, research data and primary materials acquired through research will be owned by the University researcher undertaking the research.  Research data and primary materials should be made available for use by other researchers for further research unless precluded by the conditions under which they were obtained, privacy or confidentiality matters.  Preclusions on the basis of confidentiality include not only formal confidentiality agreements but also should be employed where research/development is focused on achieving a defined piece of protectable intellectual property.  Where access is not precluded by an existing agreement or protocol approved by a properly constituted human or animal ethics committee, researchers interested in undertaking further research should consult with the owner regarding access to data and primary materials.

Where projects span several institutions an agreement will be developed at the outset covering the ownership of research data and primary materials and components thereof in accordance with the Research Collaboration and Contract Guidelines.

The University will remain the custodian of research data and primary materials acquired through research in accordance with this policy and the Research Data and Materials Management Procedure unless data and materials are owned by a third party or are subject to a formal collaborative agreement.

Intellectual property created by a University researcher subsequent to the acquisition of research data and primary materials will be subject to the Intellectual Property Policy.

5.      Management of Research Data and Primary Materials

A central aim of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research is that sufficient data and materials are retained to justify the outcomes of research and to defend such outcomes should they be challenged.  The Code also contends that the potential value of data and material for further research should be considered, particularly where the research would be difficult or impossible to repeat.  While it may not be practical to keep all primary material (such as ore, biological material, questionnaires, simulations or recordings), durable records derived from them (such as assays, test results, transcripts, and laboratory and field notes) must be retained where practicable and be accessible.  Consistent with these aims this policy sets out responsibilities for the management, storage, access, retention and disposal of research data and primary materials.

5.1.     Responsibilities

5.1.1.       Researchers are required to:

  1. create and maintain full and accurate records of the research methods and data sources used, by way of notes or diary entries and laboratory books etc;
  2. provide the same level of care and protection to primary research records, such as laboratory notebooks, as to analysed research data in accordance with the University’s Laboratory Procedure;
  3. manage research data and primary materials according to protocols approved by the animal or human ethics committee and legislative requirements;
  4. retain research data where practicable, including electronic data, in a durable, indexed and retrievable form;
  5. ensure that research data and primary materials are kept safe and secure in the storage provided during the active phase of research where practicable, even when not in current use;
  6. maintain a catalogue of research data in an accessible form;
  7. ensure that where projects span several institutions an agreement is developed at the outset covering the storage of research data and primary materials within each institution in accordance with the Research Collaboration and Contract Guidelines; and
  8. ensure that adequate backup, archival and monitoring strategies are in place to prevent the loss of research data and primary materials and delays in the completion of research.

Primary investigators are required to ensure that data and materials acquired during research are managed in accordance with the provisions of this policy.

Note:  In circumstances where more than one primary investigator is involved in research, agreement should be reached on which primary investigator will be responsible for data and materials management prior to the initiation of the research.

5.1.2.       Heads of Research Centres or nominees are required to:

  1. be responsible for the retention of research data and primary materials and maintain a register of where research data and primary materials are stored during the active phase of a research project;
  2. initiate the transfer of research data and primary materials from the School or Centre to longer term centrally managed repositories at the conclusion of the active phase of a research project;
  3. ensure that research records that are subject to allegations of research misconduct are retained until the matter is resolved; and
  4. ensure that University, Faculty and School policy and procedures are disseminated to researchers.

Note: In the absence of a Head of Research Centre the Head of School is responsible for the above.

6.      The Storage 0f Research Data and Primary Materials

In order to ensure that the University is able to defend challenged research outcomes as required by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research it is necessary for the University to remain the custodian of research data and primary materials acquired during research unless the data and materials are owned by a third party.  In the event that a researcher moves outside the institution, the University will remain the custodian of controlled research data and primary materials acquired during a researcher’s formal association with the institution.

6.1.     Research data and primary materials should be held initially in a researcher’s School, Centre or other suitable institutional repository during the active phase of research. The location of data and primary materials will be recorded in a register maintained by the Head of School or nominee in accordance with the University’s Research Data and Materials Management Procedure.  Arrangements for data or material to be held in other locations should be documented in the register.

6.2.     Researchers are permitted to retain copies of data and materials for their own use, however original data and materials will be controlled as outlined in Section 8.0 and subject to external legislative requirements and the University’s policies and procedures.

7.      Access to Research Data and Primary Materials

7.1.     Research data and primary materials should be made available for use by other researchers for further research unless precluded by the conditions under which they were obtained, privacy or confidentiality matters.  Researchers interested in undertaking further research should consult with the owner regarding access to data and primary materials.

7.2.     Researchers given access to confidential information must maintain that confidentiality.

8.      Retention of Research Data and Primary Materials

8.1.     Researchers must determine which data and materials should be retained based on conventions in a discipline or legislative requirements and in accordance with the provisions of this policy.

8.2.     In general, University researchers will be guided by the provisions of the State Records Act 1998 as detailed in the General Disposal Authority – University Records (GDA 23) and set out in the following table.

Research Data – records generated in the conduct of the research project where the University is entitled to control or ownership of the research data. 

GDA Reference

Description

Retention/Disposal Action

23.6.1

Projects of major national or international significance, interest or controversy or where the principal investigator has a widely acknowledged influence in the area of scholarship and where the data is crucial to the substantiation of the research findings and cannot be readily or practically duplicated.

Required as State Archives - never to be destroyed.  Transfer to University Archives for custody on behalf of State Records NSW.

 

23.6.3

Projects not of major significance – where the project has human subjects and potential long term effects including animal testing for human products. Includes clinical or psychological research with potential long term effects.

Retain for a minimum of 20 years after project is completed, or after research subjects have reached the age of 25 years, whichever is longer, then destroy

23.6.3

Projects which are not of major significance – where the research has potential long term environmental effect.

Retain for minimum of 20 years after project is completed, then destroy

23.6.4

Projects which are not of major significance – where the research does not have potential long term effects, including research on animals

Retain for minimum of five years after project is completed, then destroy

23.6.5

Paper records which have been converted to electronic format e.g. through data entry or imaging.

Retain until no longer required for reference or administrative use, then destroy.

 

8.3.     In some instances, researchers may be bound by the requirements specified by a funding body or external agency unless those agencies or bodies stipulate a period of retention less than that required by the law.

8.4.     In the absence of discipline-based practices, codes, or guidelines and in line with the above provisions of the Act, research data and primary materials will be retained for a minimum of five years from the date of publication.

8.5.     In particular cases, the period for which the data and materials should be retained will be determined by the specific type of research, as in the following instance:

  1.   The provisions of the State Records Act 1998 as detailed in the table above in 8.2 would apply in the event that a publication is based on the research data and materials.

9.      Disposal of Research Data and Primary Materials

9.1.     Research data and primary materials should be retained for sufficient time to allow reference to them by other researchers and interested parties.

9.2.     In the event that results from research are challenged, all associated data and materials must be retained until the matter is resolved.  Research records that may be subject to allegations of research misconduct must not be destroyed.

9.3.     The disposal of research data and primary materials will be in accordance with the University’s Research Data and Materials Management Procedure.

10.   Accompanying Documents

Responsible Conduct of Research Policy

Research Data and Materials Management Procedure

Research Collaboration and Contract Guidelines

Laboratory Procedure

Human Tissue Management Guidelines

11.   Related Documents

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Intellectual Property Policy 000831

Intellectual Property Procedure 000832

State Records Act 1998

General Disposal Authority – University Records (GDA 23)

 

Approval AuthorityAcademic Senate
Date Approved3 December 2008
Policy SponsorDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Policy OwnerPro Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Policy ContactExecutive Officer, Graduate Studies