The policy specifies that data must be retained for three years. When should I start thinking about this, and where do I go for help?

Some research sponsors require formal data management plans when applying for a grant.

Before beginning any research, researchers should plan how data will be recorded to ensure completeness and accuracy, where data will be stored, how the data will be managed and who will have access, and how to ensure that data are preserved for future reference. Graduate students and postdocs should have a formal discussion with their advisor or advisory committee to ensure that together they have a proper plan.

Why are the management and retention of data important?

Data are the basis for many forms of scholarly writings and serve as the definitive source of facts, observations and details of methods, procedures, or analyses. Recorded and preserved data foster the norms of accuracy, replication, and reliability in scientific research, and provide the ability to understand precisely how a procedure was performed by someone else, and what was observed months or years before.

How does data relate to inventions and patents? And do researchers have discretion over whether to file a patent?

The University has an ownership interest in all inventions or discoveries made under the auspices of the University. It holds that intellectual property rights that may exist in research data and related materials shall remain with the University, and that any dissemination and commercialization of knowledge resulting from research conducted by Yale researchers shall be done in accordance with University policy. Refer to Yale Patent policy.

Does copyright apply to research data? How can researchers protect the intellectual work they have put into the research process?

The University cedes copyright on scholarly works to the authors in the Copyright policy. Generally, there is no copyright in data, because copyright attaches to words, pictures, etc. that contain inherent creativity and directly embody the thoughts of the author. So the creator of the data may be entitled to authorship, and to copyright ownership, in articles describing the substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data.

Does University ownership of research data conflict with open access principles or requirements?

No. The policy is consistent with the principles and requirements of open access to research data. Ownership in and of itself does not prevent or restrict sharing. However, there is a delicate balance between an investigator’s willingness to share data in order to facilitate scientific progress, and legislative, regulatory, contractual, ethical or other obligations to preserve and protect data. The policy enables the University to ensure that access to research data is achieved in ways that are appropriate and consistent with the core values of the University.

Does the policy specify what data can be shared with non-Yale collaborators and clarify who owns the data?

Ownership is often defined by the primary funding source of the project. In all cases, but especially when collaborating, it is recommended that ownership is established at the start of a project. Data management plans, increasingly required by funders and strongly recommended by the University, provide an opportunity to establish clear roles and responsibilities.

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