1. Purpose of procedures
1.1 This document outlines the responsibilities for the storage and management of research data and materials in compliance with the Code, the Responsible Research Conduct – Governing Policy, and other relevant legislation.
2. Scope and application
2.1 These procedures apply to all staff, students, research trainees, adjunct and conjoint appointments, visiting academics, and research fellows who engage in research activity under the auspices of the University.
2.2 The University acknowledges that it may not always be possible to retain all primary materials; however, durable records derived from them (such as assays, test results, transcripts, and laboratory and field notes) must be retained and accessible.
2.3 Please refer to the ‘Management of research data and primary materials’ section of the Responsible Research Conduct – Governing Policy when consulting these procedures.
Please refer to the University’s Glossary of terms for policies and procedures. Terms and definitions identified below are specific to this policy and are critical to its effectiveness.
The Code: the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students: students enrolled in a research master’s or doctoral degree.
Primary materials: physical or virtual objects acquired or derived through a process of scholarly investigation from which research data may be derived. It includes, but is not limited to: ore; biological materials; questionnaires or recordings.
Research: as defined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
Research data: any data collected during research that could be used to validate the research findings and/or facilitate the reproduction of the research. This includes data in all forms (e.g. electronic, lab notes, surveys, field notes, datasets, audio recordings, test results).
Researcher: all staff, students, research trainees, adjunct and conjoint appointments, visiting academics, and research fellows who engage in research activity under the auspices of USC.
4.1 All research data and related materials must be stored in facilities and environments endorsed by the University. Physical storage options are to be provided by schools, research centres, and/or departments. In cases where access to an endorsed facility is not available, for example, when in a remote location, researchers may use a portable storage devide but should transfer data to an endorsed facility as soon as access is restored.
4.2 Researchers are required to complete a research data management plan (RDMP) at the commencement of their project and to facilitate access to endorsed storage facilities and environments. Research students will need to complete the RDMP in conjunction with their supervisor. RDMPs should be updated throughout the lifecycle of the project to reflect changes to data storage and management.
4.3 RDMPs may be required for externally funded research projects; therefore, in addition to University requirements, researchers will need to consult the specific grant conditions to ensure they comply with data storage requirements.
4.4 In cases where research data cannot be stored in a University endorsed facility, the Location of Research Data and Materials form must be completed and submitted to the Office of Research for approval prior to the start of the research project. Once approved, the form will be lodged with the USC Library and the information recorded on the data registry.
4.5 The minimum retention period for research data and primary materials will be set according to the Queensland State Archives University Sector Retention and Disposal Schedule. Some research data may be permanently retained, for example, where the project is of high public interest or significance to the discipline.
4.6 Disposal of research data and materials, including orphaned data, must be managed in accordance with relevant legislative requirements and the minimum retention period set by Queensland State Archives in the University Sector Retention and Disposal Schedule. As outlined in the Information and Records Management – Procedures, researchers must not dispose of research data and materials without prior approval from Information Management Services.
4.7 If the location of research data and materials and related records is changed during the the project, the RDMP or Location of Research Data and Materials form must be updated by the person responsible to reflect the new location and the form submitted to the USC Library to be recorded in the data registry.
5. Researcher responsibilities
5.1 Researchers are required to:
5.1.1 Create and maintain full and accurate records of the research methods and data sources, such as notes, diary entries, questionnaires, laboratory books, etc., and ensure the data are stored securely and appropriately in accordance with section 4 of these procedures.
5.1.2 Manage research data and materials and related records according to protocols approved by the human research or animal ethics committees, if applicable, and in accordance with relevant laboratory and legislative requirements.
5.1.3 Ensure that adequate backup, archival and monitoring strategies are in place to prevent the loss of research data and materials, and to minimise delays in the completion of the research.
5.1.4 Report any inappropriate use of, access to, or loss of data in accordance with the Information Management Framework - Governing Policy and the Data Breach Response Plan (link to MyUSC staff intranet).
5.1.5 Manage research data and primary materials in accordance with section 4 of these procedures, the Code, the Responsible Research Conduct – Governing Policy, the Information and Records Management – Procedures, other relevant legislation and University policies.
5.1.6 Ensure a written agreement is developed prior to the beginning of the project covering ownership of research data and materials for projects operating across institutions.
5.1.7 Store electronic data with appropriate metadata describing how, when and where it was generated, state instrument settings and software used.
5.1.8 Consult the USC Library to determine the appropriate storage location for data sets. In addition to an RDMP, large data sets should have risk assessments and transition or disengagement plans, with the latter necessary where the research data are created from data owned by a third party. Large data sets may need risk assessments to include risks associated with long term storage.
5.1.9 Ensure any physical research data and primary materials are stored securely at the University, the location of which is documented in accordance with section 4 of these procedures.
6. Responsibilities of HDR supervisors
6.1 HDR supervisors are required to:
6.1.1 In consultation with the student, prepare an RDMP, and if relevant a Location of Research Data and Materials form, before the research commences and update throughout the lifecycle of the project, as per section 4 of these procedures.
6.1.2 Share responsibility for the storage and management of research data and materials for the student’s research project.
6.1.3 Familiarise themselves with the legislative and regulatory requirements and funding body or collaboration conditions relating to the research project.
7. Data owned by another party
7.1 In cases where research is conducted using data or materials that are owned by another party, neither the institution or the researcher can assert ownership. In such cases, the source of the data or materials and the access arrangements should be documented by the researcher ensuring the data can be accessed to enable justification and verification of the research outcomes.
8. Access by interested parties
8.1 Research data and materials giving rise to research outputs must be available for discussion with other researchers, subject to any confidentiality, contractual, privacy or patent protection requirements.
8.2 During the research activity, requests by other researchers to access data and materials should be directed to the lead researcher who may refer the request to the relevant Head of School or Research Centre Director. Transition management plans for provision of research data to other researchers should be considered.
8.3 On completion or abandonment of any research project, all access requests shall be directed to the relevant Head of School or Research Centre Director who will:
(a) consult with the researcher and their supervisor;
(b) consider the ethical, privacy, contractual, confidentiality and patent protection issues;
(c) consider the potential value of the research data and materials and related records;
(d) for further research, particularly where the research would be difficult or impossible to repeat;
(e) ensure the independence of the research project; and
(f) optimise areas of synergy with other USC research projects or research collaborators.
8.4 Access authorisations may be reviewed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) on the request of any researcher.
8.5 Researchers given access to confidential research data and materials must maintain that confidentiality.
9.1 Before transferring any research data or materials to or from the University (either domestic or international), a material transfer agreement (MTA) or a collaboration agreement defining the rights and obligations of both parties in respect of the research data or materials must be developed.
9.2 Prior to importing or exporting any material, researchers must familiarise themselves and ensure compliance with all customs, export trade controls, Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) rules, regulations or laws.
9.3 If a researcher transfers from the University to another institution, or from another institution to the University, a written agreement must be developed between both institutions and the researcher in respect of ownership, custodianship, transfer of responsibilities and any desirable ongoing access to the research data and materials by the University.
10. Breaches of responsible data management
10.1 Breaches of responsible data management include, but are not limited, to:
- falsification or fabrication of research data or primary materials;
- failure to report, in a timely manner, a data breach or inappropriate access to or use of data;
- failure to retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials;
- failure to comply with approvals that relate to the retention, sharing or disposal for research data or primary materials; and
- selective retention of data so as to hinder the verifiability of a research output or access request.
Location of Research Data and Materials form
- For staff – refer to MyUSC.
- For HDR Students – refer to BlackBoard, under Research and Research Training.
Location of Research Data Management Plan
- For staff – refer to MyUSC.
- For HDR Students – refer to BlackBoard, under Research and Research Training.