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Institutional policies and procedures


Institutional policies and procedures, which might include guidelines, protocols and standards, are fundamental to good research data management.  These should:

  • support the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • be up to date
  • address data-related issues (many institutions already have policies on the topics listed below but these may pre-date the latest version of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research)
  • be widely publicised to all those who have a role in ensuring that research data is well managed, ie researchers, data managers
  • include compliance measures.

In some instances, research institutions have sensibly opted to combine policies on topics which are related. In some cases, policies may not specifically mention data.  However, all policies and procedures do need to be consistent with, supportive of and supported by the institution's overall research data management policy.

Research data management

A number of ANDS guides deal with research data management policy.

The following examples of research data management policies and procedures show different institutional approaches to the issue of research data management. In some cases, research data management policy is incorporated into the institutional policy on the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

A comprehensive list of Australian University Policies and Procedures relating to data management can be found on the ANDS Project Registry, including some which have both Policy and Procedure

The Research Data Management Policy from the University of Edinburgh is a current international examples. .

Records management

Research data created by Australian universities and other publicly-funded research institutions are subject to the Australian Freedom of Information Act, or to relevant State legislation in the same way as data created by government departments.  For further information, see the website of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Research data storage

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research requires that sufficient data be retained to justify the outcomes of research and to defend such outcomes should they be challenged.  For this reason, the storage of research data may not be the subject of institutional policies, but may well require procedures. See, for example:

Access to data, databases & archives

Issues related to access to data and archives may not require a specific policy as they may be dealt with in a more general research data management policy.  The procedures around access, however, may be complex and require stated procedures.

Retention of materials & research data following a research project

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research sets out retention periods for research data, research records and primary materials.  In addition, there is need to consider

  • specific provisions set out in Commonwealth and State legislation concerning archives and record keeping, especially those materials of heritage value,
  • discipinary requirements, and
  • possibly other regulatory requirements.

The following two examples demonstrate the kinds of procedures required.

ANDS Discussion Paper - Selection and Appraisal [PDF 203KB]

Collaborative research projects

The creation of data may well be an output of any collaborative research project.  Policy issues include:

  • responsibility for disposal, retention, storage and access in both the short and long term
  • intellectual property, copyright and patents (which may be more appropriately handled in the institutions policies relating to these).

Ethics and privacy

Issues of data management and re-use need be addressed in relation to ethics and privacy.  These in turn relate to disposal, retention, storage and access, all of which may be dealt with in separate policies and procedures.

ANDS Guide - Ethics, Consent and Data Sharing

Data sharing & re-use

Issues to be addressed about data sharing and re-use include:

  • institutional expectations concerning the sharing of data generated by its researchers
  • defining responsibilities within the institution for all activities associated with ongoing access to data (identification, curation, etc)
  • outlining responsibilities and expectations associated with the use of data brought in from third parties.

Secure & safe disposal of research data

The following examples show different ways of addressing the issue of record disposal, for both digital and non-digital data.

Intellectual property, copyright, patents & data licensing

A number of ANDS Guides provide information on this topic.

Institutional policies need not distinguish between data and other forms of intellectual property to be effective. See for example:

The Council of Australian Universities (CAUL) has a brief overview of the different IP policies used by Australian Universities, updated as of July 2012. The updated document can be found at Copyright Support Tools

Use of third party data

There can be implications for managing third party data (ie data brought in from other data suppliers).  See, for example, the Monash University guidelines on Using Third Party Content.