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University of Manchester Research Data Management Policy


There is growing recognition that a systematic approach to research data management and preservation is fundamental to good research practice. 

It is also clear that research data acquired using public funding should be treated as a public good, and made openly available to other researchers wherever appropriate. At the same time, the trend across many disciplines to work with increasingly large datasets has exacerbated the practical challenge involved in managing data effectively. 

Although the primary responsibility for good research data management rests with individual researchers, it is clear that universities have an institutional responsibility to ensure good practice – indeed research funders increasingly impose data management obligations on institutions as a condition of financial support. 

Against this background, RCUK has agreed a set of common principles for data policy and individual research funders have published formal guidelines (see summary at Appendix B).  For further background information and access to resources see the Digital Curation Centre website.

The Research Data Management Policy (Policy) for the University of Manchester set out below has been developed with input from a broad range of stakeholders within the University.  It aims to establish broad principles, and will be augmented, in due course, with detailed procedures and guidance. This policy (Policy) is complemented by related University policies relevant to data management, data sharing, and data security.

Research Data Management Policy

The University recognises its responsibility to promote high standards of research data management practice, the need for transparency, and the desirability of making research data openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner that does not harm intellectual property, or conflict with legal or third party obligations.

This policy (Policy) applies to any data (Relevant Data) that is created or acquired in research (funded or unfunded) involving staff and/or students of the University (Relevant Research).

For the purpose of the Policy, all Relevant Research should be organised into distinct time-limited projects (Relevant Projects) and for each Relevant Project, the University of Manchester participants should nominate, in advance, a principal investigator (Principal Investigator) for the University, who will take responsibility for ensuring good research data management practice. 

Should the Principal Investigator leave the University or be unable to continue in the role before all his/her duties relating to the data have been discharged, it is the responsibility of his/her Head of School to appoint a replacement.

  1. The University endorses the RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy and requires all its staff and students to adhere to them, as well as taking into account any other research data management requirements that may apply.

  2. The University recognises its responsibility to support good research data management practice, and will provide appropriate support services and guidelines (Guidelines) for researchers.

  3. All Relevant Data, and the intellectual property rights therein, are subject to the University’s intellectual property policy (Intellectual Property Policy).  They are generally the property of the University (and/or, where relevant, a subsidiary company), unless agreed otherwise e.g. in relation to commercially sensitive data that are subject to a third-party agreement.

  4. Where the nature of a Relevant Project is such that the ownership of Relevant Data might be ambiguous – for example, in a multi-partner collaboration – it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure that the ownership of, and intellectual property rights in, all data are agreed formally in advance, paying due regard to the University’s intellectual property policy, and relevant third-party agreements.

  5. Every Relevant Project initiated following the adoption of this Policy must have a research data management plan (Research Data Management Plan), which follows Guidelines, and addresses the arrangements for research data management throughout the project life-cycle. 

    Unless agreed otherwise, the plan must respect the research data management policies of the funder(s) and of any other interested parties. 

    It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure that the Research Data Management Plan is created, recorded by the University, adhered to and updated as necessary throughout the project lifecycle.

  6. Relevant Data must be stored in a way that follows Guidelines and ensures appropriate security and integrity of the data, compliance with confidentiality undertakings and data protection law, and respect for ownership and intellectual property rights. 

    Where Relevant Data is stored outside the direct control of the University, details must be recorded in the Research Data Management Plan, and it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to use their best endeavours to ensure that equivalent standards apply.

  7. All Relevant Data must be associated with metadata which meets minimum standards set out in Guidelines, and is sufficient to enable other researchers to understand how it was created or acquired, and, if it is to be made openly available, to discover it and assess its reuse potential.

  8. Relevant Data that are likely to have long-term value, including data that substantiate research findings or represent records of the University, must be preserved and curated, following Guidelines, for as long as they remain of value, and for at least any period stipulated by the funder or other relevant authority.

  9. The University expects its researchers to make Relevant Data openly available to other researchers in a timely way, with as few restrictions as possible. 

    It is recognised that some restrictions may be necessary, e.g. to protect intellectual property, respect confidentiality, or honour third party agreements, but these should be minimised as far as is practicable. 

    It is also recognised that it may be appropriate to allow a limited period of privileged access to the data for the research team that acquired or created it.

  10. Where Relevant Data are made openly available, it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure compliance with all relevant legal and other requirements including: ethical approvals and consents, the rights of data subjects, the 1998 Data Protection Act, intellectual property rights and agreements and any other confidentiality agreements.

  11. Where Relevant Data are used to underpin published research, but there is good reason for the data not to be made openly available, it is nevertheless expected that researchers will normally make all relevant data and related materials available to other researchers or interested parties for the purpose of verifying the integrity of the research, subject, where necessary, to suitable restrictions and confidentiality undertakings. 

    Published research should always include information on how to access the supporting data. Users of third party research data should acknowledge the sources of their data and abide by the terms and conditions under which they are accessed.

  12. This Policy should be read in conjunction with the University’s Code of Good Research Conduct which sets out the University’s overarching policy framework for good research practice, including the management of research data.

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