Research Data Management Policy with guidance

The University of York Research Data Management Policy was first approved by Research Committee on 11 June 2014. The policy was reviewed and revisions approved on 15 November 2017.

Introduction
1. Scope
2. Oversight
3. Policy
4. Responsibilities
Further information
Appendix 1 Guidance - Defining Research Data

Introduction

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.

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.

Guidance

Whilst postgraduate taught and undergraduate students are not subject to the policy, all members of the University are required to follow good practice in managing research data, i.e. to address ethical and legal issues (including data protection), to store data securely, to organise data well, and to dispose of data which has fulfilled its purpose.

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.

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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.

Guidance

Many research funders require the researchers they fund to share and preserve their research data. See the Funder data policies web pages for summaries of the main requirements.

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.

Guidance

See the Code of Practice on Research Integrity, and the pages on Organising and documenting your data, Storing your data securely, Ethical and legal issues, Funder data policies and Sharing, preserving and depositing your data for further guidance.

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.

 

Guidance

Find out more about data management plans on the Planning your data management web page. Many research funders require a data management plan for the research they fund; see the Funder data policies pages for summaries of data management plan requirements.

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.

 

Guidance

The management of confidential, sensitive and/or personal data has ethical as well as legal implications. Find out more on the Ethical and legal issues web page.

For further guidance on the ethics of research data management, speak to a member of the departmental/subject level ethics committee in the first instance.

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

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Guidance

The RCUK state that "It is appropriate to use public funds to support the management and sharing of publicly-funded research data." See the Costing RDM page for more information.

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.

Guidance

See the Data retention, Data disposal and Data sharing web pages for further guidance.

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.

Guidance

For further guidance on which data to retain and for how long see the Data retention web page.

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.

Guidance

Refer to the regulations for information on the ownership of research data, or for further advice contact the IP & Legal Team.

 

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.

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Guidance

Either submit the data to an appropriate data service or archive, e.g. a funder/subject/publisher data service, or choose to transfer it to the University Research Data York service.

Some funders require deposit in a specific data service or archive. Researchers are responsible for ensuring this is achieved.

See the Depositing your data web page for further guidance.

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.

Guidance

Registration in this instance refers to the creation of a ‘datasets’ record in PURE where descriptive metadata, to aid discoverability and reuse, is recorded. See the Recording datasets in PURE web page (login required) for information on how to do this and the minimum metadata/information required.

Postgraduate research students do not currently have PURE accounts and should therefore ask their supervisor or co-author to add a dataset record on their behalf. Find out more about PURE on the PURE at the University of York web pages.

Adding a dataset record to PURE ensures that datasets produced by the University are made visible on the York Research Database (YRD), that staff profiles are complete, and that published outputs link to associated dataset(s).

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.

Guidance

Data access statements are a requirement of many funder data policies and are a requirement of the RCUK Policy on Open Access which states:

"[3.3] (ii) As part of supporting the drive for openness and transparency in research, and to ensure that researchers think about data access issues, the policy requires all research papers, if applicable, to include a statement on how underlying research materials, such as data, samples or models, can be accessed."

For further guidance and example data access statements see the Data citation web page.

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 Policy or the Speak Up (public interest disclosure) Policy and Procedure.

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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 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.

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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;

Guidance

Departmental Research Committees must consider how governance and oversight of research data management (RDM) may best fit with current/local departmental processes and procedures.

Consideration should be taken as to whether RDM responsibilities should be addressed and/or sign off carried out within the ethical review process or for all new research projects, and how this may be incorporated into departmental procedures.

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;

Guidance

Departments may wish to consider implementing a checklist/question(s) relating to RDM responsibilities (or form of), and/or incorporating submission/sign off of data management plans (DMPs) within departmental procedures for:

  • new projects
    SPSW: DMPs are mandated for all new projects
  • ethical review (this is appropriate where there are ethical considerations associated with the data e.g. research data about people)
    Psychology: an RDM question was added to the ethical review form
    SPSW: ethics sub-committee signs off preliminary data management plans (required for staff and research students)
  • TAP/supervisor meetings
    Chemistry: RDM will be discussed at TAP meetings and in the longer term included on thesis forms.

The Library’s Research Support Team can advise on the checks or questions which may be included.


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

Guidance

Departments may wish to consider the following actions to ensure that staff and research students are aware of their responsibilities in relation to RDM.

For new staff and research students: Conversations around RDM and providing information at induction such as checklists, key information documents and/or web pages which reference the University RDM Policy (along with other important University policies (e.g. Information Security Policy); signpost to the RDM web pages for guidance; refer to the Library's Research Support Team for support; list training opportunities; and, provide clear instruction on any local departmental procedures for RDM.

Examples of practice:

  • Archaeology: RDM is included as part of induction for new postgraduate research students.
  • Biology: An RDM briefing is delivered by the Library’s Research Support Team (within an Ethics and Integrity session) for all new research students annually. Graduate Board agreed to make the RDM 101 tutorial mandatory for research students from 2018 intake, it is advisable for current students.
  • Chemistry: Chemistry-specific RDM training is delivered by a member of staff to postgraduate research students. Third year research students give flash talks to assist other research students in applying RDM to Chemistry scenarios. Postdocs are targeted with a session on RDM during departmental induction.
  • WRoCAH: RDM training is delivered by one of the White Rose Libraries’ research teams to new research students each year. Attendance is mandatory.

For existing staff and research students: Yearly (or as required) updates/reminders via channels that are most relevant to those in the department (e.g. newsletter/email/meeting) about the University RDM Policy and researchers’ RDM responsibilities.

Examples of practice:

  • SPSW: Yearly updates signposting staff and research students to the RDM Policy. In addition, drop-in sessions are held each term for students.

For departing staff and research students: In advance of departure, discussion and agreed actions within exit interviews/TAP/supervisor meetings (as appropriate) to ensure that “all relevant research data are archived, maintained, deposited or disposed of appropriately, securely and auditably” (4.5.7). See also guidance for 4.6.7

IT Services provide instruction on what to do with files stored on the University filestore/Google Drive etc. before individuals leave the University: Information for staff leavers/student leavers

The Library’s Research Support Team can advise on the information to include about central support and services, and/or the training opportunities that may be considered.

Current RDM training provision:

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

Guidance

It may be necessary to develop local standards for RDM and even local policies if the research data handled, used and/or curated by department staff and research students needs to conform to disciplinary norms/standards.

The creation of a data management plan (DMP) is mandated by the majority of funders and is considered to be key to successful data management. In addition, some departments are mandating the creation of DMPs, e.g. Archaeology and Chemistry for postgraduate research students, and SPSW for all research projects.

To help researchers:

  • DMP template for postgraduate research projects
    York has a simplified DMP template (and prompt sheet) designed for use by postgraduate research students. It can also be used by staff for unfunded projects.
  • DMPonline
    An online tool, created by the Digital Curation Centre, designed to help researchers create personalised DMPs according to the requirements stipulated by major funders. In addition, plans can be exported in a format appropriate for submission to a funder, and can be shared online with colleagues. York has customised the tool with its own guidance.
  • (A trial) DMP review service
    The Library’s Research Support Team is trialling a service to review DMPs, where we will review plans prior to submission. To use the service, plans should be emailed to lib-research-support@york.ac.uk at least two weeks prior to submission.

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

Guidance

Given as an example in the guidance for 4.6.2, SPSW’s ethics sub-committee signs off preliminary DMPs for staff and research students’ research that requires ethical review.

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

Guidance

When researchers apply for funding, costing all activities associated with data management is not only helpful but often necessary.

Full economic costing of all aspects of data management and sharing should be included in funding applications, wherever possible. This could be for people, equipment, infrastructure and tools to manage, store, analyse and provide access to data; as long as the costs are incurred within the funding period. Most funders allow for and expect such costings to be included in applications. The RCUK state that: "It is appropriate to use public funds to support the management and sharing of publicly-funded research data."

Departmental Research Committees may need to consider how their departmental processes and procedures can ensure that the costing of RDM activities is calculated and included in funding applications or in DMPs submitted as part of grant applications. Where the costs of managing and sharing data are substantial, inclusion in departmental MTP processes may be appropriate.

For more information see the Costing RDM section of the ‘Planning your data management’ web page, and the resources included.

Departmental Computing Officers and IT Services can advise on additional storage/IT equipment/software etc. that may be required by a project, and associated costs, options and technical support that may be available.

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;

Guidance

The University normally owns any intellectual property (IP) arising from research undertaken by University staff unless otherwise agreed with a funding body, such as where a funder takes ownership of the resulting IP. See the University Policy on Intellectual Property.

If a member of staff leaves the University, a copy of the research data should be retained by the University as the data belongs to the University.

The University may, at its discretion, allow a departing staff member to take a copy of the data with them provided this does not conflict with any contractual commitment or adversely affect the University’s research or commercialisation plans. Any such access to data must first be agreed in writing by the University. For advice contact the IP & Legal Team

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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

Guidance

If a PI/project lead leaves the University during the course of the research, they must pass on the stewardship of any research data created during their employment before their departure. Options may include transfer to their next institution where agreed by the University (see guidance for 4.6.7), or in the absence of an agreed successor for the data, the stewardship may devolve upwards to the Chair of Departmental Research Committee or Head of Department.

The data steward must ensure that “... on completion of research, all relevant research data are archived, maintained, deposited or disposed of appropriately, securely and auditably” (4.5.7).

In advance of departure, discussion of research data still in the staff member’s possession (e.g. as part of an exit interview) should take place within the department, to ensure that:

  • an appropriate data steward is identified for the research data, who is aware of his/her RDM responsibilities in relation to the data, or
  • research data from completed research is either securely disposed of or archived (as appropriate). See the Depositing your data web page for further guidance.

IT Services provide instruction on what to do with files stored on the University filestore/Google Drive etc. before individuals leave the University: Information for staff leavers

Shared drives is offered as a potential solution for enabling continued access to shared files.

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.

Guidance

Induction for new staff should include checks for adequate documentation for transferred-in projects, to allow the University to meet its obligations and demonstrate its entitlements in respect of the project and the research data.

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.

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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.

The Library's Research Support Team is here to help. If you have any questions or want to know more about research data management, please email: lib-research-support@york.ac.uk.


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.

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