University of Bath

Research Data Policy guidance

Information to help you understand and comply with the University's Research Data Policy.

Overview of related University policies

The Policy and guidance should be read in conjunction with the University's Code of Good Practice in Research Integrity; the Intellectual Property Policy; the Institutional Code of Ethics; the IT Security Policy; the University's Data Protection guidance; guidance on Freedom of Information; and the Information Classification Framework.

The Policy guidance will be updated as new infrastructure to support research data management is developed.

Section 1

This policy applies to all research conducted at the University, regardless of whether or not the research is externally funded. It includes research undertaken by research postgraduate students but is unlikely to include taught postgraduate or undergraduate research except in exceptional circumstances.

1.1.   Research is defined according to the internationally accepted OECD Frascati Manual as "Creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications."

1.2.   Research data are defined as any material created or collected for the purposes of analysis to generate original research results, irrespective of the format of data. Research data may be digital, paper based or in other forms.

1.3.   In exceptional circumstances the findings of research undertaken by undergraduate or taught postgraduate students may be included in scholarly publications. When this occurs, any research data supporting these publications are covered by this policy. Supervisors are encouraged to discuss the potential publication of research data with project students.

1.4.   The policy does not normally apply to research, such as surveys used to improve service provision, conducted by the Students’ Union or Professional Services.

1.5.   The policy's primary application is to current or future research undertaken from the date of policy approval. Consideration will also be given to legacy research outputs that have value to the University.

1.6.   Whilst the policy does not apply to research conducted outside the University, such as where postgraduate students are based in industry, researchers must still comply with relevant funder policies.

1.7.   The policy does not apply to contract research carried out by research facilities or consultancy services conducted outside the University.

Section 2

The most senior University of Bath researcher associated with a research project is the Data Steward for that project and is ultimately responsible for research data management.

2.1.   The most senior researcher associated with a project is typically the Principal Investigator or, for postgraduate research students, the supervisor.

2.2.   The Data Steward can delegate responsibilities and this should be outlined in the research data management plan. 2.3.   In practice, day-to-day management of research data is likely to be a shared responsibility with all researchers having a personal responsibility for the data they create or use.

2.4.   If a Data Steward leaves the University, they must first discuss management and retention of research data with their Head of Department and/or line manager.

2.5.   In the absence of the Data Steward, responsibility for stewardship of research data will devolve upwards, resting with Heads of Department or Dean of School in the first instance. This might include arbitrating on the retention of legacy data held by the department.

2.6.   Where research is conducted in collaboration with external research partners, a Data Steward at the University of Bath must still be assigned. In situations where there are multiple co-Investigators at the University, a single Data Steward must be assigned from amongst them. This Data Steward is responsible for management of research data that is under the University’s control.

2.7.   Instrument Specialists in University equipment facilities will be the Data Steward responsible for research data created in their facility.

Section 3

Researchers are responsible for making themselves familiar with and adhering to legislation, contractual obligations and funder policies governing their research data. Where research involves the use of data owned by a third party, researchers must abide by licences or terms of use governing the data.

3.1.   Where multiple policies apply to a particular research project, legislative requirements supersede all other policies.

3.2.   New contractual agreements must comply with funder and University policies on research data.

3.3.   Researchers should seek advice on legislation from Library Research Services, the Freedom of Information Officer, the Data Protection team, or Research Commercialisation and Contracts as appropriate.

Section 4

Data management plans are expected to be written for all new research projects, irrespective of whether submission of such plans is required when applying for research funding.

4.1.   Data management plans must normally be created before a project starts and, if applicable, prior to submission of a funding application, to ensure that costs and collaborator requirements are considered and included in the project budget or contracts as appropriate.

4.2.   Data management plans must explicitly address data creation, management, confidentiality, retention, publication and responsibilities.

4.3.   Current or unfunded research projects that were not required to submit a data management plan as a condition of funding may be required to provide a plan as a condition of using University managed data storage.

4.4.   All members of a research group must be aware of and abide by the data management plans covering their research.

4.5.   Where applicable, funder-specific templates and guidance for creating a data management plan should be used. Should no funder-specific template exist, the University of Bath provides generic templates.

4.6.   Data Stewards must review data management plans at least annually during the life of the project to ensure adherence and continued relevance to the research.

Section 5

Where possible researchers should seek to recover the direct costs of managing research data from the research funder.

5.1.   The costs associated with research data management should be considered at the earliest opportunity.

5.2.   Costs of data management might include:

  • 5.2.1. transcription of interviews,
  • 5.2.2. time associated with the preparation of research data for archive and publication,
  • 5.2.3. data publication, where there is a charge associated with deposit in a data archive.
  • 5.3.   Library Research Services and Research & Innovation Services can assist with estimation of data management costs.

Section 6

Researchers must ensure that active research data are stored securely and protected from loss. Data Stewards should ensure that access is not limited to a single person.

6.1.   To minimise the risk of data loss, digital material must be secured through use of electronic back-up systems such as University managed file storage and, where possible, non-digital material should be digitised at the earliest possible opportunity.

6.2.   Researchers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that research data are not stored in a jurisdiction that offers lower levels of protection than are available in the UK. For example, research data must not be removed from the UK to avoid Freedom of Information requests and personal data must not be removed from the European Economic Area or approved countries. If there is a need to share personal data with collaborators outside the European Economic Area, researchers must first contact the Data Protection Officer for advice.

6.3.   In exceptional cases where external security requirements demand more stringent access restrictions as a condition of using a dataset, Data Stewards should contact the IT Security Manager or Library Research Services prior to accepting the dataset.

6.4.   In circumstances where institutional storage is not available (e.g. when working in the field), researchers must take steps to maintain the integrity and authenticity of the data and ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to prevent unauthorised access.

Section 7

Researchers must provide sufficient metadata (descriptive information) and explanatory documentation about their research data to ensure that data are discoverable, understandable and re-usable.

7.1.   Documentation and descriptive information must be recorded as early as possible after data creation.

7.2.   Relevant metadata standards or minimal information sets should be used where applicable.

7.3.   Descriptive information should enable other researchers to understand the research data sufficiently to be able to re-use it for any reasonably foreseeable purpose, such as those outlined in the original project proposal or impact plan.

Section 8

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

8.1.   Where available a persistent identifier, such as a Digital Object Identifier, for a dataset must be included with this statement. Library Research Services can assist with identifying suitable persistent identifiers.

8.2.   Guidance on data access statements, including examples for different types of access restriction, are available on the data management website.

Section 9

Research data must be retained after project completion if they substantiate research findings, are of potential long-term value, support a patent application or if there are other legal requirements for data retention.

9.1.   All data on which published research findings are based must normally be retained.

9.2.   Supervisors of postgraduate students must agree retention of their students’ research data prior to graduation. Data retention must comply with any applicable studentship agreements, funder policies, and contractual, legal or other obligations.

9.3.   Guidance on determining the long-term value of data can be obtained using the NERC data-value checklist. Data with long-term value might include unique, unrepeatable measurements such as climate data, new data contributing to an existing collection, or data representing a landmark discovery or precedent.

9.4.   Legal requirements for data retention might include patent support, aircraft design, or pharmaceutical research.

9.5.   Researchers should seek further guidance on determining which data should be retained from Library Research Services.

Section 10

All data that are retained should be registered with the University, whether they are hosted by the University or maintained elsewhere, even if access to the data is restricted.

10.1.  Registration involves providing the University with information about retained data, including what the data are, who created and is responsible for them and where the data are stored.

10.2.  Library Research Services will manage the process of data registration using Pure. Guidance on how to register a dataset in Pure is available.

10.3.  Archived or retained data should be registered within 12 months of the publication of findings based on the data, or the end of the project, whichever is the sooner.

Section 11

Unless legal or funder requirements specify otherwise, data must be retained for 10 years from the end of the project or the publication date of any research findings based upon them, after which retention will be reviewed.

11.1.  Where possible, or if mandated by the funder or publisher, retained data must be submitted to an appropriate archive or database for long-term preservation. Researchers should avoid retaining data using methods that might not persist for 10 years, such as use of project websites or personal computing equipment.

11.2.  Where data has been submitted to an external archive for preservation, that archive will be responsible for managing long-term data retention.

11.3.  Library Research Services can assist with identification of a suitable location for long-term data preservation. Guidance on selecting a suitable data archive is also available.

11.4.  Library Research Services will manage the review of data retention for research data hosted by the University.

Section 12

Research data that have been selected for retention must be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible, unless this would breach legislative, regulatory, contractual, ethical or other obligations, or where the cost of doing so would be prohibitive.

12.1.  Publication of research data must be considered in all new consortium and collaboration agreements, and when consent is sought from research participants.

12.2.  Where data has a commercial value or supports a commercial output such as a patent then public disclosure of the data may be delayed. Research Development and Knowledge Exchange can advise researchers on the commercial value of their research data.

12.3.  Valid reasons for restricting access to data must be specified in the data management plan and provided when data are registered with the University.

12.4.  Library Research Services can assist with identification of a suitable location for data publication and can provide advice on the available exemptions that may be used to justify withholding of research data.

12.5.  Research data selected for retention must, where possible, be made openly available within 12 months of project completion or from the first publication of research findings based on the data, whichever is the sooner. Funder policies stipulating more rapid data publication supersede this requirement.

12.6.  Research Data that are deposited in digital repositories may be access-restricted or embargoed by technical means.

Section 13

Research data that are made available should not be assigned licences or terms of use that unnecessarily restrict their management, sharing or use by others.

13.1.  Where data are passed to a third party, such as to a sponsor, publisher, or a data archive for storage and publication, exclusive rights to ownership or use of research data should not also be handed over, unless it is a condition imposed by contractual or other obligations, without first consulting with Library Research Services.

13.2.  Examples of licences that could restrict data re-use might include non-commercial use only or share-alike licences.

13.3.  Where data are made available the licence assigned should specify that, at a minimum, users of the data must acknowledge the originator of the data in any publication or derived work.

13.4.  Guidance on selecting a suitable licence for research data is available.

Section 14

Project websites should be offered to the UK Web Archive for preservation at least 6 months prior to completion of the project.

14.1.  Legislation already permits all websites with a .uk domain name to be archived. These websites are available to view in the reading rooms of Legal Deposit Libraries.

14.2.  If a project website can be made publicly available after the project has finished, which the University of Bath would consider to be the norm, researchers should nominate their website to UK Web Archive.

Last updated 27 March 2015.

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