Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Data Management

data ownership, ethics and legislation

This will differ depending on the project. Schools or faculties may have various expectations or processes for data ownership from PGR students.

You may be working with external stakeholders/funders where there may already be an agreement as to who owns the data and who has responsibility for collecting/ managing the data. You may also be involved in a project that already has a data management plan with roles for responsibility and ownership defined.

If you are involved with participant data, there are different roles and responsibilities around data in order to comply with GDPR and more information on this can be found in the Ethics pages or via the University's GDPR training.

You will need to make sure you are aware of:

  • Who owns the data resulting from your project
  • ​What you are responsible for in regards to the data
  • Who has overall responsibility for the data
  • What you can or cannot do with the data / access rights after the project. This will affect what you can do with it during and after your involvement with the project and is of particular importance if your department asks you to sign a data transfer agreement.

Talk to your supervisor or project lead and make sure that this information goes into your data management plan. Make sure that the details about what you can do with the data are explicit enough for your use. E.G. Who can use the data? Who can publish the data? Can you submit the data as part of a peer review process if necessary? Who can share the data with third parties?

Licenses and permissions: If you are planning to use someone else's data you will need to check what you can do with the data. Check to see if the data has got a license applied to it. For creative works and data the most common type of license is a Creative Commons license, but code or software may be available under an Open Source License.

If there is no description of permissions or license attached to the data, you may need to contact the copyright/data owner to ascertain if you can use it and under what conditions. You will need to factor whatever license or permissions that apply to the data into your plans for dissemination of the work. E.G. If the data is licensed for non-commercial purposes, you may not be able to sell work resulting from it.

Attribution and citation: You may find information on how the data should be cited from the repository record where the data is located. You may however, wish to use Data Cite's tool to generate a citation in a specific style using the DOI of a dataset.

There is also more information via the Data Curation Centre on what information you would need to place in a citation and the principles behind data citation. As well as being part of good academic practice, there are currently ongoing projects to link data and related works using citation, as well as using citation to examine impact of datasets so citing datasets should lead to tangible benefits for researchers in the near future.

Funders increasingly have requirements around research data and you may be asked to create a data management plan in order to comply with your funder's requirements. The DMPOnline tool keeps templates and examples for different funders, which you can access here.

In additional to planning for data management, many funders now also stipulate how the data should be retained and/or archived after the project. They may have a period of time that the data must be retained for, or require that the data is placed into specific repositories.

You will need to know about the needs of your funder towards the beginning of the project as well as familiarise yourself with the requirements of any named repository, so that you can plan for how to meet these requirements as you carry out your project.

You can use the Sherpa/Juliet tool to check funder data requirements, however you may also wish to then look at the funder's online guidance - links are given in the box below.

If you are using participant data, you will need to apply for Ethical approval and will need to complete GDPR training as a part of this process. It is worth noting that any sort of participant data that you are collecting/handling, including information mined from social media sites and information that has been anonymised, counts as participant data, whether the data will be shared/published or not. Training for PGRs in GDPR can be accessed from here.

GDPR does not apply to research in quite the same way as it applies to the general public, and UK Research & Innovation have produced a helpful overview for researchers.

This video from the University of Edinburgh also very neatly describes the changing landscape around Research Data, Ethics and Data Sharing. At the end it describes their services around data, for information on University of Plymouth data storage services please contact IT Self Service.

There may also be other ethical concerns around your data. For more information on Ethics and to contact advisors within the university who can advise on Ethics as it refers to your project and data collection/management, please see the University of Plymouth's Ethics Governance pages. This page also includes additional information on certain types of research, such as human tissue, animals or patients.

Ideally, you would consider the costs of Research Data Management within your project proposal/ funding application and apply for it as part of the costs of your research, particularly where your funder requires you to archive/preserve the data. The JISC RDM Toolkit has pages with information on ways to cost for RDM as well as a link to the UK Data Service's tool.

For PGR students however, the main costs they may wish to consider are probably the costs of data storage, specialist software to do with their data and the costs of archiving and/or preserving data. 

Data Storage: You currently have access to 1TB of storage on your personal OneDrive account, but you can also raise a support request for a Research Site. This will give you an free, additional 1TB of space for your research, and enable you to use the Team Site for collaboration, basic versioning of documents, and some control over access/sharing of files.

However, depending on the amount of data your are collecting, how much data needs to be 'active' at any given point or other specific security needs, One Drive may not be suitable for your data. In this case it may be worth talking to TIS via a service request to find out if a bespoke storage may need to be bought and how this will be procured.

For further information on safe storage of data, please see our RDM page on Storage and Backup.

Archiving/ Preservation: You can archive/preserve your data using the university's PEARL repository with no additional cost. However, while we can handle as much data in total as you need to deposit, there is a limit on individual file sizes. To find out more, contact your Information Specialist.

If you are depositing using another repository, they should include information on costs within their guidance. Our pages on Selection, Preservation and Sharing has more information on decided what to retain, for how long, and choosing a suitable repository. 

Individual funder requirements on research data

Arts & Humanities Research Council

The AHRC states that grant holders in all areas, apart from archaeology, must make any significant electronic resources or datasets created as a result of research funded by the Council available in an accessible and appropriate depository for at least three years after the end of their grant. More information is available on the AHRC's website.

The AHRC does not have a standalone data policy. Research data is covered in the Research Funding Guide. See in particular sections on "Data Management Plan" (1.5.9) and "Access to Data - deposit of resources or datasets" (section 8). On March 29th 2018, AHRC removed its requirement for a Technical Plan, replacing it with a requirement to submit a Data Management Plan, which will be mandatory for all Research Grants, Follow on Funding and Leadership Fellows proposals. 

AHRC's Research Funding Guide (latest revision v4.3, March 2018)


Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council

The BBSRC created a Data sharing policy in 2010.

All research proposals submitted to the BBSRC are required to have a data sharing statement.

Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council

** Important **

Are you an EPSRC grant holder?  The council will begin assessing compliance with its data policy for papers published from 1 May 2015 (or papers that result from EPSRC funded research activity that ends after 1st May 2015, irrespective of publication):

What do I need to do to meet these requirements?

There are 9 expectations - here are some of the key ones:

Provide a data statement:

Published research papers should include a short statement describing how and on what terms any supporting research data may be accessed. Links provided should be persistent URLs such as DOIs.  Personal email addresses should not be used as these are subject to change.  See examples of data statements.

Ensure the research data that underpins your publication is accessible:

EPSRC does not specify where data should be deposited.  It may be possible to deposit into PEARL, the university's repository via Elements.  Alternatively your funder may have a repository.  A directory of repositories is available:

Record your data in Elements:

If you deposit data in a repository other than PEARL you will still need to create a record for the dataset in Elements as the University is required to maintain a data registry listing all research data outputs.  


Economic & Social Research Council

The ESRC has produced a research data policy.

This policy aims to support grant holders who collect, produce and re-use data, by defining the roles and responsibilities of researchers, ESRC and its data service providers.

The document covers the general principles and policy statements on data access and sharing, including expectations on data quality and management which ESRC grant holders are expected to adhere to.

Update 18.12.2017: CESSDA ERIC (the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives European Infrastructure Consortium, which includes UKDA) has produced a data management tour guide to introduce the concepts of data management and provide guidance to researchers.

Medical Research Council

The MRC created a policy on research data sharing in 2005 which was updated in 2011.

The MRC expects valuable data arising from MRC-funded research to be made available to the scientific community with as few restrictions as possible so as to maximize the value of the data for research and for eventual patient and public benefit. Such data must be shared in a timely and responsible manner.

Data arising from MRC-funded research must be properly curated throughout its life-cycle and released with the appropriate high-quality metadata. This is the responsibility of the data custodians, who are often those individuals or organisations that received MRC funding to create or collect the data.

Natural Environment Research Council

The NERC data policy came into force in January 2011.

The policy covers environmental data acquired, assembled or created through research, survey and monitoring activities that are either fully or partially funded by NERC. It also applies to environmental data managed by NERC where NERC was not the original funder.

Science & Technology Facilities Council

The STFC has created a scientific data policy which incoporates the general RCUK principles on data management and sharing.

Data management plans should exist for all data within the scope of the policy.

Cancer Research UK

CRUK's Data Sharing and Preservation Policy

An overview of CRUK's policy is available via the Digital Curation Centre website.

European Commission

EC's Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020 (V. 3.0, July 2016).

An overview of the policy is available at the Digital Curation Centre website.

[Horizon Europe policy information coming soon]

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust's Policy on Data, Software and Materials Management and Sharing.

An overview of the policy is available at the Digital Curation Centre website.

Additional resources for data ownership, funders and ethics