At the start of the project
At the start of your project starts, work out who owns the data and how long it needs to kept. Ethical commitments and the consent you seek from your participants will affect what you can do with the data later, so consider potential data sharing and re-use scenarios well before data is collected and acquired. The Library can help you with conducting a Literature Review, provide you with delivery of material not held by the Library, as well as help in searching databases and other information sources. Contact your Librarian for assistance.
For data that you create or collect, you need to:
- Determine what rights, including copyright, will subsist in the data produced by the project
- Establish who will be the rights holder/s for the data. As an SCU staff member most data you produce will be owned by the University. As a Higher Degree by Research student you would usually own the data you generate; however, there are certain cases in which you must assign your IP to the University that you should be aware of.
- Consider what terms and conditions should be applied to the data for re-use.
As an SCU staff member you may have permission from SCU to re-use most of your scholarly works (including data) for research and teaching purposes and to make decisions about re-use using your professional judgement, subject to Part D of the University's Intellectual Property Policy. As a Higher Degree by Research Student, unless you have assigned IP to the University, decisions about re-use and licensing of your data are yours to make. See
For data that you are sourcing from elsewhere, you need to:
- Establish the rights holder
- Establish the terms and conditions of re-use granted by the rights holder/s and assess whether your re-use fits within these. To establish the terms and conditions of re-use, you will need to:
- Find and keep a copy of any 'express permission' that the rights holder has given. This will usually be a licence or a set of standard terms and conditions that apply to the process by which you have obtained the data, such as downloading from websites and online data archives
- OR, if no express permission is given that enables you to establish terms and conditions of re-use, you must seek permission from the rights holder directly.
Before the project starts, work out the minimum retention period for the data, using the table provided by NSW State Records Retention Periods in GA47.
To work out the maximum retention period, you need to consider the longer-term value of the data in light of the potential research impact and other factors, such as:
- the research would be difficult or impossible to repeat
- repeating the research would be burdensome for human participants or animals
- the results are of high public interest or contention
- methods or results constitute a paradigm shift for the field of inquiry, or
- the research will result in notifiable intellectual property (e.g. a patent application).
In addition to the data, you also need to retain any corporate records related to the research data that you are generating.
Seek advice from the on disposal and retention of research data.
When completing your ethics application consider data management, and in particular data sharing and re-use, in the context of privacy, confidentiality and consent, cultural sensitivity, and community-based research.
Be explicit in your ethics application about any plans you have to make data available to other researchers or more broadly. Describe your strategies for protecting privacy and confidentiality, e.g. by ensuring:
- that participants will not be identifiable, or
- that informed consent will be sought from participants for the proposed data re-use, or
- that access controls or re-use agreements will be in place.
Be explicit in your consent forms about any plans to make data available, who will be able to access the data, and how the data would be accessed and potentially re-used.
You may enhance your ability to share data later if you identify broad types of access rather than specific services that may be unsuitable or unavailable in future. For example, saying that you will publish data 'through web-based institutional or subject archives or repositories' will give you more flexibility than if you specify a single repository or archive that may not be available in future.
Ethics, consent and data sharing (Australian National Data Service)
Consent and Ethics (UK Data Archive) especially subsections on Consent, Anonymisation, and Access control
Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, section 13 applies)
Seek advice from the Office Of Research.
Adapted from Best practice guidelines for researchers: Managing research data and primary materials by Griffith University which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.