FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Research Data Management FAQ
- Who owns the research data a student generates as part of the student's research thesis or as part of an undergraduate research experience if the student is not employed by the University and no substantial University resources were used to generate the data?
The student owns the research data unless superseded by another agreement.
- If a student who is not employed by the University develops the experimental design jointly with the student's adviser and generates the research data, who owns the research data?
Ownership of data is defined by intellectual contribution to their generation. In this scenario, the research data will be owned by both the student and the University, unless superseded by another agreement or unless substantial University resources were used in the generation of the research data.
- If a student who is not employed by the University generates the research data in an experiment that was solely designed and developed by a University researcher, who owns the research data?
Since the student had no intellectual contribution to the generation of the research data, the University owns the research data, unless superseded by other agreements.
- Who owns the research data a student acquires or generates as part of the student's academic work if the student is funded through an external fellowship?
Not all fellowship holders, even if they receive payment through the University, are considered employees of the University. Depending on whether the student is employed by the University, the appropriate section of the policy apply.
- How is sharing of research data between researchers at the University and outside legal entities handled?
Collaborative research outside of the University may require third party access to research data. Such access is governed by Material Transfer Agreements or Data Use Agreements.
- Can a PI refuse to share data if the data are requested by an external party?
While data sharing may be required by a grant or contract or other agreements, there are cases were data sharing would have negative consequences. PIs should consult with their college, school, or system campus if questions about data sharing arise. The consultation may require the involvement of the Office of the General Counsel.
- How do I determine whether resources are substantial?
Resources that are differentially provided and are more than what other members of the department or unit regularly receive are candidates for being considered substantial. PIs should discuss ownership of data prior to engaging in the acquisition of the data to avoid disputes.
- Who should I contact if a conflict with data ownership arises?
If the parties involved cannot resolve the conflict, they should contact the unit head/chair or Director of Graduate Studies/Director of Undergraduate Studies if a student is involved in the conflict. If the conflict cannot be resolved, the Dean's or Chancellor's office can provide further assistance. Furthermore, the Office for Conflict Resolution serves all campuses and provides services, including consultations and facilitated discussions.
- If a student is employed by a company and uses research data from their employer for their thesis research, how is data ownership handled?
Data ownership needs to be clarified before the student begins the research project. The clarification may involve the college, school, or system campus, wherever the research is conducted, and may also involve the Office of the General Counsel.
- Are there any guidelines on the minimum retention of research data?
The minimum retention of research data varies by sponsor and type of research data. Some agencies recommend that data should be retained for a minimum of three years after project completion or publishing. Many researchers may choose to retain their data for much longer. However, if an agreement, for instance as part of IRB review, stipulates a period after which data must be destroyed, the agreement must be followed.
- If a PI becomes incapacitated (due to death or illness), who is responsible for the management of the research data?
Unless other collaborators are able to continue the research project and take over the management of the research data, the PI's department or the administering unit (in the case of a grant administered by a unit different from the department) becomes responsible to initiate steps to ensure that the research data is continued to be managed as appropriate.