Research Integrity and Compliance

Research Data Management Procedure

Policy Code: RS1836

Purpose

Federation University Australia is committed to meeting its obligations consistent with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (The Code).  The Research Data Management Procedure covers the requirements articulated in The Code regarding the responsibilities for the management, storage, access, retention and disposal of research data and primary materials.

Scope

This Procedure applies to:

  • All staff, including sessional staff, employed by the University or any University-controlled entity;   
  • All persons, including adjunct staff, honorary staff, visitors or volunteers, engaged in research under the auspices of the University or any University-controlled entity, including research undertaken as a representative of the University that is conducted in conjunction with another entity, whether in the public or private sectors;
  • All students, including past students, of the University who engage or have engaged in research and / or research related activities, related to their studies, while enrolled at the University.
  • All research data and research data materials regardless of format, and subject to the provisions of any relevant contracts or funding/collaboration agreements.

Legislative Context

  • Federation University Australia Act 2010
  • The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act)
  • Victorian Electronic Transactions Act 2000
  • Victorian Evidence Act 1958
  • Victorian Information Privacy Act 2000
  • Victorian Health Records Act 2001
  • Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982
  • Victorian Public Records Act 1973
  • Victorian Crimes (Documentation Destruction) Act 2006
  • Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968

Definitions

A complete list of definitions relevant to this procedure is contained within the Research Data Management Policy.

A further list of definitions specifically relevant to this procedure is included below:

Term Definition
Research data

Data generated during research projects. Research data can include data in the form of facts, observations, images, samples, computer program results, recordings, measurements or experiences on which argument, test or hypotheses, or another research output is based. Data may be numerical, descriptive, visual or tactile. It may be raw, cleaned, or processed, and may be held in any format or media. It includes laboratory notebooks, as well as any other records, including computer code, that are necessary for the construction and evaluation of reported results of research, and the events and processes leading to those results.

Research data is to be distinguished from the information about research performance and statistical data which is used by the University for planning and budgetary purposes and reported by the University to government agencies (for example and including the Higher Education Research Data Collection, HERDC, and Excellence in Research for Australia, ERA).

Research Data Management All the processes and actions that control how data is collected, organised, used, stored, shared, disseminated and disposed of within the data life cycle, for current and future research purposes.
Primary materials Print, digital or physical objects collected and/or used during scholarly activity and investigation from which research data may be obtained. It includes materials such as biological samples, mineral samples, survey questionnaires, measurements, recordings, computer results, and artefacts (including design).
Research The concept of research is broad and includes the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies, inventions and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it is new and creative.
Researchers Any person undertaking or piloting research in association or affiliation with Federation University Australia including but not limited to academics, students, Higher Degree by Research candidates, adjunct researchers, professional staff and third party associates.
Retention How long data is to be stored.
The Code The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018).

Actions

Federation University Australia, in accordance with a central principle of The Code, is required to retain sufficient data and materials to justify the outcomes of research, and to defend such outcomes should they be challenged. 

The Code also contends that the potential value of data and material for further research should be considered, particularly where the research would be difficult or impossible to repeat.  While it may not be practical to keep all primary material (such as soils, biological material, questionnaires, simulations or recordings), durable records derived from them (such as assays, test results, transcripts, and laboratory and field notes) must be retained where practicable and be accessible. 

The University will provide secure storage for research data and research data records. Deans, Directors, and Heads of Research Centres will record the location of research data in a local register. Researchers will maintain a catalogue of research data, and where possible should share completed research datasets with potential interested researchers through FedUni. figshare. Researchers are permitted to keep a copy of research data when they leave the Institution, but the University remains the custodian of research data.

Responsible Persons

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Take responsibility Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) or delegate has overall responsibility for overseeing the effective implementation of the Research Data Management Procedure. The Academic Board (through the Research Committee), as the approving body, has responsibility for academic oversight of the Procedure.
    The University

The University is responsible for providing facilities for the safe and secure storage of research data and research data records.

 

    Deans and Directors/Heads of Research Centres

Deans and Directors/Heads of Research Centres (or equivalent) are responsible for:

  • Providing guidelines and procedures on the retention of research data, including advice on data repositories relevant to their School/Centre’s respective discipline/s and specialisation/s, and maintaining a register of where research data and primary materials are stored,
  • Completing a research data audit in an exit interview when a university researcher leaves the University or School.

 

    Individual University Researchers

Individual University researchers are responsible for maintaining records of research data and primary materials, and ensuring that these records and the research data and materials, are securely stored. University researchers are responsible for and required to:

  • create and maintain full and accurate records of the research methods and data sources used,
  • provide the same level of care and protection to primary research records, such as laboratory notebooks;
  • manage research data and primary materials according to protocols approved by the animal or human ethics committee and legislative requirements;
  • retain research data where practicable, including electronic data, in a durable, indexed and retrievable form;
  • ensure that research data and primary materials are kept safe and secure in the storage provided during the active phase of research, even when not in current use;
  • maintain a catalogue of their research data in an accessible form in (1) FedUni.figshare or (2) link to their ORCiD account or (3) on a public copy of their CV;
  • ensure that where projects span several institutions an agreement is made at the outset covering the storage and retention of research data and primary materials within each institution in accordance with the research entity policy guidelines; and
  • ensure that adequate backup, archival and monitoring strategies are in place to prevent the loss of research data and primary materials and delays in the completion of research.

All research data should be stored together with its associated documentation  where possible.

 

Research Data Management Planning

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Research Data Management Planning All researchers

All researchers are encouraged, as good practice, to develop a Research Data Management Plan when planning research projects and other research activities.  The Plan must include:

  • Data ownership;
  • Data collection;
  • Data storage;
  • Data retention;
  • Data access and re-use; and
  • Data disposal.
B. Comply with any contractual agreements Researchers Researchers must comply with any relevant contractual, intellectual property and confidentiality agreements, and ethical requirements when developing the Research Data Management Plan.

Research Data Management Ethics

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Prepare research ethics application (as per ‘Applying for Human Research Ethics Procedure’ or ‘Applying for Animal Research Ethics Procedure’ Researchers Research ethics applications should consider Research Data Management and, in particular, data sharing and re-use, in the context of privacy, confidentiality and consent, cultural sensitivity, and community-based research. Data should be available for other researchers unless there are satisfactory reasons not to do so.
B. Include detail relevant to data management within application Researchers

Ethics applications should be explicit about any plans to provide other researchers with access to data, and describe strategies for protecting privacy and confidentiality, e.g. by ensuring that:

  • Participants will not be identifiable, or
  • Informed consent will be sought from participants for the proposed research data re-use; or
  • Access controls or re-use agreements will be in place.
C. Include relevant detail in Plain Language Information Statement (and consent forms if applicable) Researchers The PLIS and consent forms submitted for approval should be explicit about any plans to make research data available, who will be able to access the research data, and how the research data may be accessed and potentially re-used (by the named researchers or by others)

Storage of Research Data and Primary Research Materials

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Store data during active research phase Researchers
  • During the active research phase (data collection and analysis) researchers must use University endorsed corporate storage. The University provides personal and shared file storage space to staff and students (refer to FedUni Digital Research Data Storage Options chart Appendix A and FedUni Digital Research Data Storage Options flowchart Appendix B). Additional space may be assigned to researchers or access provided to school specific research storage drives.
  • If data is to be used off site for periods of time (e.g. by researchers working in the field, or HDR students working with industry partners), copies must be kept on password protected devices.  However, portable media such as external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and USB devices must not be used for long-term storage of primary materials, research data or records as they can be easily misplaced or corrupted due to damage.
  • Hard copies must be stored within the relevant School or Centre in locked storage facilities (during the active research phase, a research partner’s institutional storage facilities may also be used).
B. Store data on completion of data collection Researchers
  • After the active research phase, all primary materials, research data and records must be stored in an institutional or disciplinary repository or archive for the minimum retention period for the purposes of validating the research, furthering knowledge and to aid preservation and access. It may be necessary to convert data into newer or more accessible formats over time, therefore researchers and research administrators must ensure data is appropriately stored in either:
    • A School or Centre research data storage facility; or
    • A central University research data storage facility; or
    • An approved disciplinary repository
  • Where University researchers collaborate with researchers from other institutions, it is expected that the School or Centre research data storage facility would retain a copy of the portions of research data created by the University researcher, or created using University resources.
C. Share research outputs when possible via FedUni ResearchOnline Researchers
  • Researchers should share their published research, where possible, with interested parties through FedUni ResearchOnline as governed by the Research Publications Repository (FedUni Research Online) Policy.
  • FedUni ResearchOnline is an institutional open access digital repository that promotes, stores and provides open access to the research and scholarly output of Federation University Australia's staff, students and affiliates. It is developed, managed and maintained by the Library.
  • Having secured this right, authors are encouraged to provide electronic copies of their work so that full-text items can be added to FedUni ResearchOnline. Library repository staff in the Library can clarify any copyright or publisher embargo issues. For further information or to submit an article, email: researchonline@federation.edu.au
D. Share research data when possible via FedUni.figshare Researchers
  • Researchers should (1) share their data, where possible, with interested parties through FedUni.figshare and (2) link their research datasets in FedUni.figshare to research publications and other outputs and (3) to provide a link in research outputs to the underlying dataset stored in FedUni.figshare.
  • FedUni.figshare is an online digital repository where researchers can preserve and share research data and non-traditional research outputs, including figures, datasets, software/code, images, videos, posters and presentations. Material stored on FedUni.figshare is determined to be suitable for permanent retention.  FedUni.figshare is cloud-based, which allows researchers to access it anywhere and at any time.
  • Attend training sessions provided by the Library in relation to the use of FedUni.figshare.

Backup

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Develop back up strategy Researchers It is expected that all research data and drafts of research outputs will be managed within the collaborative and storage tools endorsed by the University. This ensures that materials and files are backed up regularly.

Access to Research Data and Primary Research Materials

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Ensure easy access to research data and primary materials (where applicable) Researchers
  • Researchers are able to share their data via FedUni.figshare and discipline-specific or discipline-agnostic repositories.
  • Research data should be stored according to FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-useable) principles. This ensures that it can be discovered, accessed and cited by other researchers. Research data and primary materials should be made available for use by other interested parties for further research unless precluded by the conditions under which they were obtained (for example in accordance with any contractual or funding arrangements, or privacy, ethical or confidentiality matters).
  • Research data should normally be made available under open access by use of appropriate Creative Commons or equivalent licences, or by mediated negotiable or controlled access. 
  • Research outputs and metadata from publicly funded research projects (such as ARC and NHMRC) must be shared, within six months of publication (unless precluded by privacy, ethics, confidentiality or contractual arrangements).
  • All research data intended to be transferred outside Australia must be assessed by the researcher to determine whether the transfer of the research data is affected by export control laws. All permit applications must be sought through Research Services, and records of transfers must be maintained for the approved duration period by the researcher.

Retention of Research Data and Primary Research Materials

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Retain research data and primary materials Researchers
  • In order to ensure that the University is able to defend challenged research outcomes as required by The Code it is necessary for the University to remain the custodian of research data and primary materials acquired during research, unless the research data and primary materials are owned by a third party.
  • University researchers must determine which data and materials should be retained based on conventions in their discipline, or legislative requirements, and in accordance with the provisions of this procedure.
  • The minimum recommended period of retention of research data and primary materials is five (5) years from the date of publication (or equivalent) however, this may vary according to the nature of the research and to the respective discipline and specialisation. Section R22 of The Code provides further advice.
  • In some instances, researchers may be bound by the requirements specified by a funding body or external agency, unless those agencies or bodies stipulate a period of retention less than that required by law. In some instances, some research data and primary materials may be required to be retained for periods of greater than twenty-five (25) years, or even be designated “permanent (not able to be destroyed)”.
  • In the event that a researcher leaves the institution, the University will remain the custodian of research data and primary research materials acquired or created during a researcher’s formal association with the institution. As such:
    • Research data and primary research materials should be held in a University collaboration tool (OneDrive or SharePoint)during the active phase of research. The location of research data and primary research materials will be recorded in a register maintained by the Dean and/or Director/Head of a Research Centre, or nominee.  Arrangements for data or material to be held in other locations should be documented in the register.
    • University researchers are permitted to retain copies of research data and research materials for their own use; however original copies of research data and primary research materials will be controlled as per this procedure and subject to external legislative requirements and other University policies and procedures as appropriate.

Disposal of Research Data and Primary Research Materials

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Dispose of research data and primary research materials Researchers
  • All research data and primary research materials are considered University records and must be stored, disposed of, or transferred in accordance with University policies and procedures, and legislative requirements. Disposal of research data and primary research materials should be planned and deliberate, using secure disposal mechanisms so they cannot be used or reconstructed in unauthorised ways.
  • Consideration should be given to an appropriate disposal date (if appropriate) in the same way that storage of, and access to, research data and primary research materials is considered when developing a Research Data Management Plan for each research project. Research data and primary research materials should be retained for sufficient time to allow reference to them by other researchers and interested parties.
  • In the event that results from research are challenged, all associated research data and materials must be retained until the matter is resolved.  Research records that may be subject to allegations of research misconduct must not be destroyed.

Data Ownership

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Be aware of requirements in relation to data ownership Researchers
  • Research data created by staff of the University in the course of their employment is owned by the University in accordance with Federation University Australia’s Statute 8.2 - Intellectual Property subject to any relevant third party agreements, or licences in favour of the University. Intellectual property rights in research data created by students of the University are retained by the University, while the student retains copyright in any thesis produced. Refer Intellectual Property Policy.
  • In the event that a researcher leaves the institution, the University will remain the custodian of research data and primary research materials acquired during a researcher’s formal association with the institution – refer to Retention of Research Data and Primary Research Materials section.

Responsibility

  • The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this procedure
  • The Director, Research Services is responsible for maintaining the content of this procedure as delegated by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation).
  • Research Services is responsible for the maintenance of this procedure as directed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation).

Supporting Documents

Forms

Promulgation

The Research Data Management Procedure will be communicated throughout the University community in the form of:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Procedure;
  2. distribution of e-mails to Head of School / Head of Department / University staff; and/or
  3. Notification to Schools

Implementation

The Research Data Management Procedure will be implemented throughout the University via:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Procedure;

Records Management

Research Data PROV Schedule Responsible Officer Minimum Retention Period
Records Disposal Authorisation Form   University Registrar

Assessment under relevant Retention and Disposal Authority

 

Summary record of data created as part of research activities within the institution PROS16/07 3.3.1   Permanent

Data and datasets created as part of research activities which are of regulatory or community significance -

Includes data that is:

  • part of genetic research, including gene therapy
  • controversial or of high public interest
  • costly or impossible to reproduce
  • related to the use of an innovative technique for the first time
  • of significant community or heritage value to the state or nation
  • required by funding or other agreements to be retained permanently
PROS16/07 3.3.2   Permanent
Data and datasets created from clinical trials as part of research activities.  Excludes data and datasets included in class 3.3.2 PROS16/07 3.3.3   Temporary - Destroy 15 years after completion of research activity
Data and datasets created as part of research activities which involve minors.  Excludes data and datasets included in class 3.3.2 PROS16/07 3.3.4   Temporary - Destroy 15 years after child reaches the age of 8
Data and datasets created as part of research activities.  Does NOT include data created for specific research activities for which additional regularly requirements apply, including: clinical trials, gene therapy and research involving children.  Excludes data and datasets included in class 3.3.2 PROS16/07 3.3.5   Temporary - Destroy 5 years after completion of research activity