Research Data and Materials Management Procedure

Document Number000870
Date Approved3 December 2008

1.      Context

This Procedure supports the provisions of the University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and Research Data and Materials Management Policy and should be read in conjunction with these documents.

2.      Definitions

In the context of this document:

School Research Registrar (SRR) means the staff member designated by the Head of School/Centre as the person responsible for maintaining the Research Data Register on behalf of the School/Centre.

Research Data Register (“the Register”) is a central register which records details of research projects and the research data and primary materials associated with each project. The Register is maintained within the University's records management database.

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.

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;

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

3.      Procedure

3.1.     Registration – Research Data Register

  1. At the commencement of and during the active phase of a research project/activity, the researcher (or identified principal researcher) will provide to the School the required details of their project to be recorded in the Research Data Register.
  2. The School Research Registrar will maintain the Register in relation to research undertaken within the School/Centre.
  3. Where the project spans several institutions, the research team must determine at the outset of the project, which institution/researcher has custody and responsibility for the registration, storage and eventual disposal of the related research data and primary materials.
  4. The Register will record details of:
    1. name of principal investigator (academic staff member or student researcher);
    2. names of all other researcher/s (include student researchers where relevant);
    3. name of Supervisor (where applicable);
    4. project title and description;
    5. name of School/Centre;
    6. funding body/bodies (if applicable);
    7. date project commenced;
    8. date project completed or thesis submitted;
    9. a description of the research data and primary materials (including format of the data/materials, storage location, quantity);
    10. any access or confidentiality restrictions; and
    11. retention period.
  5. Ongoing management and oversight of the Register, including security and access to the Register, will be the responsibility of the records management team in Corporate Information.

3.1.1.       Storage

3.1.2.       Active phase

  1. storage for research data and primary materials, after appropriate consideration of location,    security and adequate environmental control.
  2. Where data has been obtained from limited access databases or is owned by a third party it may not be possible to store the data in the School/Centre. In such cases: (i) a written description of the location of the original data or (ii) key information regarding the limited access database from which it was extracted, must be recorded on the Register.
  3. Researchers will create and maintain throughout the research project, full and accurate records of the research methods and data sources used, by way of notes/diary entries and laboratory books etc.
  4. All data and materials must be afforded due care and protection. Regardless of the format of the materials/data, they must be protected from damage and handled with care. Data or materials must not be removed from the storage provided without authorisation during the active phase.
  5. Sensitive records/data will be appropriately protected from unauthorised access.

3.1.3.       Inactive phase

  1. When the research project becomes inactive, or there is little or no need to retain research data/materials on-hand in the School/Centre, arrangements may be made to transfer data/materials from the School/Centre to longer term centrally managed repositories.
  2. The Head of School/Centre will approve the relocation of research data/primary materials prior to any relocation.  This approval will be noted in the Register.
  3. While it may not be practical to keep all the primary material (such as ore, biological material, questionnaires or recordings), durable records derived from them (such as assays, test results, transcripts, and laboratory and field notes) must be retained and accessible.
  4. When data/materials are relocated to centrally managed locations, the following processes must be followed:
    • Hard copy/paper records and data may be transferred to the University’s off-site storage repository for retention until the appropriate disposal time.  Staff must contact the records management team in Corporate Information to arrange this transfer.  The relocation of records/data from the School/Centre to the central repository will be noted in the Register.
    • Electronic data/materials may be transferred to the secure University storage area network.  Staff must contact IT Services to arrange this. The relocation of records/data from the School/Centre to the central repository will be noted in the Register.
    • Other objects/records (materials which are neither hard copy nor electronic, such as rock or physical specimens) will be retained in appropriate secure storage in the School/Centre.
  5. The School Research Data Registrar will ensure that the Register is updated as required and that the Register accurately records the current location of research data/materials, including any relocation to central storage or transfer to other parties.

3.2.    Retention periods

  1. State Records Act 1998 or the requirements of a funding body or external agency, where the latter stipulates a longer period than that nominated in the Act. Timeframes for the retention of research data and materials are provided in the Research Data and Materials Management Policy.
  2. For short-term research projects undertaken for assessment purposes only, such as research projects completed by students, retaining research data for 12 months after the completion of the project may be sufficient. In some cases Schools/Centres or researchers may choose to retain research data and records for a longer period than the minimum required.
  3. Research data and records which are to be retained permanently as State Archives will be transferred to University Archives, a regional repository of State Records New South Wales.  Contact University Archives to arrange.

3.3.    Disposal

  1. The disposal of research data/materials must be approved in accordance with the Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and relevant records legislation. Minimum retention periods must be observed.
  2. Researchers must obtain approval to dispose of research data/primary materials and associated records. This approval is sought via completion of the Request to Destroy Research Data form, and is provided by the Records Management Office.  (yet to develop an on-line form specifically for research data and primary materials – will require researcher to seek endorsement of Head of School/Centre prior to submission)   It is unlawful to dispose of records without this permission.
  3. Disposal of research data/records/primary materials from any central storage repository will not occur without the consent or knowledge of the relevant researcher/s and School/Centre.
  4. Researchers may retain copies of research data and primary materials.  These copies may be disposed of at any time by the researcher.  Permission to dispose of copies and duplicates is not required, However, due care must be taken to ensure that disposal is secure and takes account of the confidentiality and possible sensitivity of the data/materials.
  5. In the event that results from research are challenged, all relevant data and materials must be retained until the matter is resolved.  Research records that may be relevant to allegations of research misconduct must not be destroyed.


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