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Research Data Management


Research Data Management

Data Ownership

Who Owns Data I Collect?

Normally you would own any data you are collecting for your research as per the University of Plymouth's Intellectual Property Policy, but this may differ depending on the project. This policy dictates that you would own your research data and outputs.

It is worth noting that generally, you own copyright of how you have arranged data, but facts by themselves are not covered by UK Copyright Law. For example, the locations of animals around the world are facts and you cannot own those facts, but any lists, tables, spreadsheets that you have made to contain those facts, and analyses deriving from those facts, would be within your copyright as they would fall under a literary work and therefore be protected by copyright. This extends to other outputs such as software and of course, creative works.

Cases where you may not own data.

As mentioned above, the default is for you to own your research outputs, however schools or faculties may have various expectations or processes for data ownership from PGR students and ask you to sign an agreement around the data. In this case, they may own the data. This might be in the case of larger projects.

You may also be working with external stakeholders/organisations, in which case you should form a data sharing/ collaboration agreement to define who owns the data and other various rights and responsibilities. Legal Services can support you in doing this.

You cannot own data that you re-use. i.e. third party data, where someone else owns copyright. In this case you need to be careful about the terms of use, any license put upon the data and its use, or the terms of any permissions you have been given to re-use the data.

In your data management plan...

you need to clear about your rights and responsibilities around any data you are collecting or handling.

In all cases 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 you have other agreements/ contracts in place or have signed 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?