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Research Data Management Policy

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This policy applies to all University members engaged in research, including staff and research students, and those who are conducting research on behalf of the University. It applies to all research irrespective of funding.

Good research data management enables the University and its researchers to meet the standards and responsibilities set out in the University's Code of Practice on Research Integrity and to meet funder, ethical, legal and other responsibilities. It also ensures that research data is accurate, complete, authentic and reliable, stored securely, preserved where necessary and accessible as required.



The purpose of this policy is to

  • Ensure that researchers manage their data effectively, enabling them to:
    • Demonstrate the integrity of their research
    • Preserve eligible data for reuse within the university and without (as appropriate)
    • Comply with ethical, legal, funder and other requirements in relation to data and data management
  • Ensure that University Departments understand their responsibilities in relation to governance of research data management in their departments
  • Ensure that the University responsibilities for research data management are clearly articulated.

Scope & Oversight

1. Scope

1.1 This policy is binding on all University members engaged in research, including staff and research students, and those who are conducting research on behalf of the University. The Policy does not apply to postgraduate taught and undergraduate students, except where their research findings are included in published research outputs.

1.2 This policy applies to all research irrespective of funding.

1.3 This policy supports the Code of Practice on Research Integrity and the Code of Practice and Principles for Good Ethical Governance, and supplements University policy on Records Management.

1.4 This policy refers to research data and published research outputs as defined in Appendix 1, section 4.2 and 4.5.

2. Oversight

2.1 Research Committee owns this policy and oversees research data management policy implementation via Departmental Research Committees.

2.2 The PVC Research is responsible for ensuring that this policy is regularly reviewed and is fit for purpose.


3. Policy

3.1 The University of York recognises research data1 as a valuable institutional asset, and the role of research data management in underpinning research excellence and integrity. The University endorses the RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy.

3.2 Research data will be managed in line with funder requirements as well as University policy and other relevant regulations and legislation.

3.3 Research data must be:

3.3.1 Accurate, complete, authentic and reliable;

3.3.2 Identifiable, retrievable, and available when needed;

3.3.3 Secure and safe with appropriate measures taken in handling sensitive, classified and confidential data;

3.3.4 Kept in a manner that is compliant with legal obligations, University policy and, where applicable, the requirements of funding bodies; and

3.3.5 Preserved for its life-cycle with the appropriate high-quality metadata2.

3.4 Clear arrangements for data management must be in place from the outset of the research project to address the requirements at 3.3.

3.4.1 Data management plans must be prepared according to funders’ requirements, or where required by the Department. Plans are considered good practice for all other projects.

3.4.2 Legal, ethical and commercial constraints on the release of research data must be considered at the initiation of the research process and throughout both the research and data life-cycles, and will normally be described in the data management plan.

3.4.3 Appropriate resources (time and financial resources) for data management should be allocated in grant proposals, where possible.

3.5 Research data must be retained and disposed of securely according to the relevant retention and disposal schedule, in accordance with legal, ethical, research funder and collaborator requirements and with particular concern for the confidentiality and security of the data. Research data that underpins published results or is considered to have long-term value should be retained.

3.6 In the absence of the other provisions described in 3.5, the default period for research data retention is 10 years from date of last requested access.

3.7 The ownership of data generated by research projects will be subject to the Intellectual Property Regulations, the Regulations for research degree awards and Regulations on assessments at the University of York unless the terms of research grants or contracts determine otherwise.

3.8 Retained data must be deposited in an appropriate national or international data service, or as mandated by the funder. Data should be transferred to the University Research Data York service when suitable data services are not available.

3.9 All data that are retained must be registered with the University’s Current Research Information System (PURE), whether they are hosted by the University or maintained elsewhere, even if access to the data is restricted.

3.10 A statement describing how and on what terms any supporting data may be accessed must be included in published research outputs reporting publicly-funded research, and is recommended for published research outputs reporting other research.

3.11 The University will implement research integrity and data management practices which apply appropriate protections and which recognise the legal, ethical and commercial constraints that may impinge upon the release of research data. It will enable discovery of relevant research data for completed research in a timely and responsible manner, through a central University data catalogue.

3.12 This document, together with related records and research data management policies and implementation documents, defines the framework within which research data are managed across the University.

3.13 The deliberate or reckless mismanagement of research data and/or primary materials constitutes unacceptable research conduct and should be reported in line with the University Research Misconduct Policy and Procedure or the Speak Up (public interest disclosure) Policy and Procedure.

1 Recorded material, irrespective of format or media, commonly retained and accepted in the academic community as being necessary to validate research findings. Created or acquired in the course of the research process, research data will be the recorded facts, observations, measurements, computations, statistics and results that underpin the research paper and grant or project outcomes. For further definition see Appendix 1 section 4.2

2 "metadata n. a set of data that describes and gives information about other data" (Oxford English Dictionary)

There are many different kinds of metadata. In the context of RDM, the following types of metadata might be captured:

  • Descriptive metadata to help discovery, such as the author or title of a dataset - this metadata is often a mixture of manually and automatically generated information. Descriptive information might be as simple as a few fields or might be very complex if a rich domain ontology is used.
  • File metadata embedded in files, such as information about the size and resolution of images, or the equipment used to generate the file - this kind of metadata can normally be automatically extracted.
  • Preservation metadata to record information about the data itself, and any preservation actions that might have been performed - this metadata is normally created automatically by preservation software.
  • Structural metadata about how a dataset has been assembled - this metadata would normally be generated automatically.
  • Machine-generated metadata to record details about equipment or software and it's setup as used for a particular research activity - this metadata would be generated automatically, but may be in proprietary formats.

Advice and training on use of metadata will be provided.


4. Responsibilities

4.1 All staff and research students involved in research under the University’s auspices have a responsibility to manage data they create or acquire, and to maintain it effectively and in line with University policy, regulations, codes of practice and associated training and guidance.

4.2 Responsibility for research data management lies with the Principal Investigator(s) or project lead on any research project.

4.3 Where research is undertaken by a student it is the responsibility of the staff member supervising their project to ensure that the student has a clear understanding of appropriate research data management practice in line with this policy.

4.4 When participating in collaborative projects a University of York lead must be identified to take responsibility for management of data produced under the auspices of the University of York.

4.5 Principal Investigators, University project leads and supervisors are responsible for:

4.5.1 managing research data in accordance with the principles and requirements in this policy;

4.5.2 ensuring they and the researchers they manage receive appropriate induction, training and support in the handling, curation and archiving of research data;

4.5.3 producing and adhering to a data management plan to address the requirements at 3.4;

4.5.4 planning for archiving and curation of data after the completion of research;

4.5.5 ensuring that active research data is accessible by another authorized person during the course of research to guarantee access to the data by the University in case of need;

4.5.6 producing metadata and documentation to describe data, sufficient to understand what research data exists, why, when and how it was generated and access restrictions and mechanisms;

4.5.7 ensuring that on completion of research, all relevant research data are archived, maintained, deposited or disposed of appropriately, securely and auditably;

4.5.8 ensuring that should they leave the institution before completion of a research project that a copy of any data produced under the auspices of the University is deposited before their departure; and

4.5.9 meeting all the requirements in relation to research data placed on their research by funding bodies, regulatory agencies, third party data providers and collaborating institutions or under terms of a research contract with the University.

4.6 Departmental Research Committees are responsible for:

4.6.1 governance and oversight of research data management in the Department, including compliance with this policy, departmental standards and procedures and professional frameworks and standards. Departments will be supported in the development and implementation of local arrangements in fulfilment of this responsibility;

4.6.2 ensuring that staff and research students comply with the requirements for research data management as specified by the University and by the Department;

4.6.3 ensuring that staff and research students understand the requirements for research data management and engage with training and development as necessary;

4.6.4 establishing local standards for data management for research irrespective of funding including requirements for producing data management plans;

4.6.5 ensuring sign-off of data management plans including referral to and sign off by other relevant committees, as appropriate;

4.6.6 ensuring that the costs for research data storage, curation and archiving are identified and addressed;

4.6.7 ensuring that when a member of staff leaves the institution before the completion of a project (and final deposit of data), that a copy of data produced under the auspices of the University is retained;

4.6.8 oversight of the curation and disposal of data retained once a member of staff has left or retired from the University; and

4.6.9 ensuring that there is a data management plan for projects that are transferred with their researchers to the University. This data management plan must be in line with University policy.

4.7 The University has a responsibility to ensure that systems are in place to support and reinforce good research data management and research integrity. The University is responsible for:

4.7.1 providing access to services and facilities for the storage, backup, registration, deposit, curation and archiving of research data that allows researchers to meet their requirements under this policy and those of the funders for their research;

4.7.2 raising awareness of best practice in research data management in which legal, ethical and professional requirements and standards are considered whenever research data are created, handled, used, shared or stored; and

4.7.3 providing researchers with access to training, support, advice and guidance on research data management.

Further information

Further information

The University’s research data management web pages provide guidance on good research data management practice and point to established tools and sources of advice.


Appendix 1 Guidance - Defining Research Data

1. Introduction

1.1 This guidance provides a definition of research data, set in the context of the broader range of research records needed to contextualise, manage and support the use of the primary data generated by the research process. It supports the University Research Data Management Policy.

1.2 Understanding the scope of research data and contexts in which it operates assists in its management and decisions about its custody, accessibility, retention and preservation. The identification and active management of research data underpins research integrity. The University has a responsibility to promote and verify good research practice, to support researchers in the planning and conduct of their research, to ensure the data underpinning its published and unpublished outcomes are recorded and reported, and that the results and fruits of the research process are disseminated and appropriately exploited.

1.3 Good records and research data management enables the University and its researchers to comply with legal, ethical and professional obligations, supports the University’s Records Management Policy, provides a transparent basis for investigating and defending against allegations of bad practice or fraud, and leads to better research.

2. Definition

2.1 Recorded material, irrespective of format or media, commonly retained and accepted in the academic community as being necessary to validate research findings. Created or acquired in the course of the research process, research data will be the recorded facts, observations, measurements, computations, statistics and results that underpin the research paper and grant or project outcomes.

3. Research Records

3.1 Research data rely upon other records to be understood and to ensure that we are able to

  • validate the quality and integrity of research,
  • reuse, share, reinterpret and report on research data and findings,
  • protect rights and interests in the data,
  • understand and measure impact,
  • allow preservation and facilitate discovery and access,
  • establish rights and ownership,
  • meet legal and custodial responsibilities and duties of care,
  • demonstrate compliance and safeguards
  • support staff, their career development and collaborative networks, and
  • best capitalise on the value and potential of our information assets for the benefit of the University and society.

3.2 It is important therefore that associated contracts and licences, permissions and ethical approvals, methodologies and plans are identified, managed and preserved with the ‘research data’ and outputs.

4. Classes of data relating to research

4.1 The following categories of data relating to research are intended to highlight the inter-related and often inter-dependent nature of research records across the lifecycle of the research process. They provide a broader definition in terms of our record keeping and emphasise the need to consider the records and systems which hold and are associated with a particular class of ‘research data’.‌

Classes of data relating to research image for 'Appendix 1 Guidance - Defining Research Data' of the RDM Policy

4.2 Research data. All data necessary to reconstruct the researcher’s process of analysis and to validate their findings. Funder requirements focus on the ‘primary’ research data and inputs into the research process, which underpin the research process and findings. Likewise the first order results that derive from that process – which enable the findings and outputs to be validated and in some cases may have an enduring value of their own. While not every piece of data produced during a project may need to be retained, data which underpin published research outputs should be kept by default. The University Research Data Management Policy refers. 

4.3 Supporting records. The associated records necessary to evidence ownership, position and rights in respect of the research to inform understanding and decisions about its creation, curation, status, and ethical treatment, and to enable appropriate retrieval, access, protection, preservation, use and reuse. The Records Management Policy refers.

4.4 Software. Software can fall under the definition of research data, and yet often it simply supports the data. For research data, the deciding factor is whether the software is necessary to validate research findings: if a publication does not include sufficient detail for others to replicate the work unambiguously, one should look to preserve the code or scripts as part of the research data. The EPSRC has issued guidance on the position of research software in respect of its policy and research data definition, alongside worked examples and good practice recommendations.

4.5 Published and unpublished outputs. Journal articles, conference proceedings, monographs and books, other texts, computer software programmes, performance recordings, non-textual and creative works. The University Policy on the Publication of Research refers.

4.6 Derivatives. Versions, information and activities deriving from the research (eg web profiles, results of knowledge transfer activities, FOI disclosures). University Records Management Policy refers.

4.7 Research information and reporting. Audits, management reporting and planning, documenting and understanding impact, metrics and reviews. University Records Management Policy refers.

5. Related record series

5.1 The following record series are likely to be maintained separately as the records of distinct activities and processes. It is important however that their retention is informed by the needs of research projects and associated data.

  • Ethical review process records
  • Contract and grant administration records
  • Intellectual property management records
  • Peer review process records
  • HR, recruitment and performance review records
  • Training and professional development records
  • Financial accounting records
  • Student and studentship records
  • Funding, pump-priming and sponsorship applications
  • Software licences, technical/operating manuals
  • University policies and codes

5.2 The Records Retention Schedule for the research function provides further information on the retention of research records. The Records Management Method Statement – Defining retention periods for research records gives guidance on framing retention periods for data relating to research.

Document history

Document history

11 June 2014      Approved by Research Committee
15 November 2017  Reviewed and approved by Research Committee


Review cycle: Three yearly

Date of next review: November 2020