Make your data count

University of Oxford Policy on the Management of Data Supporting Research Outputs

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1.0 Introduction

1.1 Statement of intent

1.1.1  The University of Oxford takes pride in the wealth of research data which its academic community produces, and wishes to ensure the widest possible access to its world-class research. The value and utility of research outputs increases the more broadly they are available to be considered and used by others, including scholars, businesses and charities around the globe, as well as society in general. Access for everyone in any location to Oxford’s preserved and shared research data will also help to highlight the excellence of its research. It will attract scholars and students, foster collaboration, and enhance public engagement with research, as well as maximise the intellectual, social, cultural and economic impact of research.

1.1.2  The University supports the Concordat on Open Research Data, the Research Council Common Principles on Data Policy and is committed to reviewing new initiatives in this area as they arise and supporting them as deemed appropriate.

1.1.3  The University of Oxford also recognises that good practice in data management is key to an efficient and effective research process. It is essential for enabling and safeguarding the longevity and continuing intelligibility of data, and for ensuring that sensitive data is handled in compliance with all relevant ethical and legal requirements. Preserving the data that underpins research outputs, whether it is shared or not, is integral to research integrity and reproducibility of results.

1.2 Purpose of policy

1.2.1  There is an increased requirement on researchers to manage and preserve their research data and to share it with as few restrictions as possible, while at the same time respecting concerns in relation to privacy, safety, security and commercial interests; this is under the assumption that the outputs of University research are a public good, produced in the public interest and for societal benefit. This policy aims to establish the measures needed to facilitate the appropriate curation and management of data, to secure its longevity and its potential to be shared.

1.2.2  This policy is intended to help promote good practice around research data, with the particular aim that it is:

a. stored securely and preserved in order to ensure its continuing utility;
b. appropriately identifiable, retrievable, and available when needed;
c. an accurate, complete, reliable and coherent representation of the materials collected;
d. kept in a manner that is compliant with legal obligations, including the Data Protection Act 1998 / The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and, where applicable, the requirements of funding bodies and project-specific protocols approved under the University Policy on the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Human Participants and Personal Data;
e. able to be made available to others in line with appropriate ethical, data sharing and open access principles, especially when the data underpins published research.

1.3 Definitions

1.3.1  For the purposes of this document and its related guidelines, the following terms may be defined as below:

  • Research: the creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humankind, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications (as per the Frascati Manual).
  • Research data: the recorded information (regardless of the form or the media in which it may exist) necessary to support or validate a research project’s observations, findings or outputs, or which is required for legal or regulatory compliance.
  • Researcher: a member of the University, including staff and students, or a person affiliated with the University, including visitors and collaborators, who conducts research for, on behalf of, or in association with the University, on University premises or using University facilities.
  • Principal Investigator: a researcher with overall responsibility for a research project, of any size, conducted for, on behalf of, or in association with the University; on University premises; or using University facilities.
1.4 Scope

1.4.1  This policy is for all staff (this includes technical and other support staff, and persons with honorary positions) and students conducting or supporting research at, or on behalf of, the University. Principal Investigators have overall responsibility for effective data management during research projects. However, all researchers affiliated with the University, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, have a personal responsibility to contribute to the effective management of the data they produce, and must therefore act in accordance with the aims stated in section 1.2.2 of this policy.

1.5 Policy implementation and reviewing mechanisms

1.5.1  This policy will not supersede any other current policy of the University of Oxford. This policy is devised and reviewed and updated by the Research Data Working Group on an annual basis (or more frequently as required), and approved by the Research and Innovation Committee.

2.0 Responsibilities of the University

2.1  The University will provide:

a. sufficient support, advice and information to researchers on all aspects of research data management
b. suitable infrastructure to facilitate the appropriate management of research data.
c. relevant training to promote best practice in research data management.

2.2  In order to support and enable this policy, the University is committed to engaging with researchers to fulfill the mutual responsibilities described herein, and through this engagement, ensure that the research data management services and infrastructure capabilities it provides are adequate and fit for the purpose of supporting researchers’ compliance with the policy.

2.3  In the event that a research data management requirement cannot be addressed or treated via the advice, infrastructure and training noted above, then the University will be responsive to requests for bespoke support to ensure that researchers can meet their responsibilities under this policy.

3.0 Responsibilities of the researcher

3.1  Principal Investigators hold day-to-day responsibility for the effective management of research data generated within or obtained from their research, including by their research groups. This shall include understanding and complying with the requirements of any relevant contract with or grant to the University that includes provisions regarding the ownership, preservation and dissemination of research data.

3.2  Researchers will protect confidential, personal and sensitive personal research data in accordance with legal and ethical requirements related to the research they conduct.

3.3  Researchers will make every reasonable effort to keep an accurate and comprehensive record of their research, including documenting clear procedures for the collection, storage, use, reuse, access and retention or deletion of the research data associated with their records. Where appropriate, this should include defining and documenting protocols and responsibilities in collaborative research projects.

3.4  Researchers will make every reasonable effort to recognise Intellectual Property arising from their research activities and manage that Intellectual Property according to any funder requirements or contractual obligations, and in accordance with University Statute XVI and associated University Regulations on commercial exploitation.

3.5  Researchers will preserve and provide appropriate access to their research data supporting outputs after the end of their project for as long as it has continuing value, in accordance with legal and funder requirements and paying due regard to discipline norms and cost. Notwithstanding, the minimum retention period for research data and records is three years after publication or public release of the work of the research.

3.6  Researchers should strongly consider depositing their data supporting outputs in an appropriate data repository along with sufficient descriptive metadata (a data record) to ensure that it can be found and understood. Where data is deposited somewhere other than the University’s institutional data repository (the Oxford Research Archive for Data, or ORA-Data), a data record should also be created in ORA-Data which describes and points to the data.

3.7  Researchers are responsible for agreeing arrangements (with their Head of Department or nominee) as to where their research data will be stored and who will have access to this after they leave (or retire from) the University.  The researcher’s department or faculty reserves the right to retain a copy of the data for an appropriate period to ensure compliance with any legal or regulatory responsibilities, and/or research grant or contractual requirements.

3.8  Where a researcher finds themselves unable to fulfill a responsibility under this section due to a failure of the University to supply appropriate resources as detailed in section 2 above, the researcher can instead notify the Research Data Oxford (researchdata@ox.ac.uk) team of the problem to obtain additional support.

4.0 Relationship with existing policies

4.1  The Policy on the Management of Data Supporting Research Outputs operates in conjunction with other University policies, namely:

5.0 Further information and support

5.1  Further information on the Policy on the Management of Research Data supporting Project Outputs, including how to comply with the above statements, can be found at https://researchdata.ox.ac.uk

5.2  The following teams provide support with research data management: