C. UNH Policy on Ownership, Management, and Sharing of Research Data

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1.   Introduction

    1.1  Collection and generation of research data are integral aspects of research activity at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), whether the data are primary in nature or compiled, assembled, or otherwise derived. These data have several purposes: to serve as a record of the investigation, to form the basis on which conclusions are made, and to enable the reconstruction of procedures and protocols. In keeping with its commitment to promote integrity in the scholarly process, UNH's research data management practices should ensure open and timely access to and sharing of research data. Access, sharing, and retention are especially vital with respect to questions about compliance with legal or regulatory requirements governing the conduct of research, accuracy or authenticity of data, primacy of findings, and reproducibility of results.

    1.2  UNH has developed this policy to protect UNH investigators and the integrity of research data generated under the auspices of UNH. Investigators have the right to choose the nature and the direction of their investigations, to use research data generated to pursue future research, to publish their results, and to share their findings with scientific and academic communities. The exercise of these rights, however, is subject to compliance with aws and regulations, as well as contractual obligations, governing the conduct of research. In conducting research as part of the UNH community, investigators are obligated to assist UNH in fulfilling its responsibilities of complying with applicable federal, state, and local laws, and sponsor requirements governing the conduct of research, including the management and sharing of research data.

    1.3  UNH’s responsibility for stewardship of research data, including access to data, derives from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110, Subpart C.53. While this regulatory authority applies specifically to federally funded activities, the principle that it espouses informs good management practices with respect to all research activities undertaken at UNH. Further an increasing number of sponsors (e.g., National Science Foundation [NSF], National Institutes of Health [NIH]) have requirements for sharing research data and disseminating research results.

2.   Definitions

    2.1   Investigator.

        2.1.1   Faculty or Staff Principal Investigator (PI): A faculty or staff employee of UNH who holds primary responsibility for the research project/activity for which data will be collected.

        2.1.2   Student Investigator: A graduate or undergraduate student involved in the design, conduct, data collection, or reporting of a research project/activity at or under the auspices of UNH.

        2.1.3   Other Investigator: A visiting scholar, scientist, postdoctoral fellow1 , or other visiting person who holds primary responsibility for a research project/activity for which data will be collected at or under the auspices of UNH.

        2.1.4   Sponsoring Principal Investigator (Sponsoring PI). The UNH faculty or staff advisor, instructor, or mentor on a student-initiated research project/activity serves as the Sponsoring PI for purposes of this policy. (See also footnote 1.)

    2.2   Research. Investigation undertaken to gain knowledge and understanding, including that conducted in the classroom setting. An investigation may be conducted without any particular application or generalization in mind, for possible future application or generalization, or to address an immediate need.

    2.3   Research Data. The recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings, but not any of the following: preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer views, or communications with colleagues. Research data may be in hard-copy form (including research notes, laboratory notebooks, or photographs) or in electronic form, such as computer software, computer storage/backup, or digital images.

        2.3.1   Research data are not limited to raw experimental results and instrument outputs; they encompass associated protocols, numbers, graphs, tables, and charts used to collect and reconstruct the data. Research data include numbers, field notes or observations, procedures for data analysis and/or reduction, data obtained from interviews, or surveys, computer files and databases, research notebooks or laboratory journals, slides, audio/videorecordings, and/or photographs.

        2.3.2   Research materials are tangible physical objects from which data are obtained such as, environmental samples, biological specimens, cell lines, derived reagents, drilling core samples, or genetically-altered microorganisms. While these are not considered to be research data, they should be retained consistent with disciplinary standards.

        2.3.3   Research data do not include: unreported preliminary analyses of data, drafts of scientific papers, future research plans, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues; trade secrets, commercial information, or materials necessary to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published, or similar information protected under law; personnel, medical, and similar information, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. (See OMB Circular A-110 Subpart C.36(d)(2)(i))

    2.4   Ownership. Ownership is that condition under which an organization, individual(s), or any combination of the foregoing has (have) all rights and title to specific property owned.

    2.5   Custodianship. For purposes of this policy, Custodianship is the physical possession of and direct responsibility for protecting research data, including accurate recording and proper retention, maintenance, access, sharing, and disposition of the data.

    2.6   Stewardship. For purposes of this policy, Stewardship is the UNH's overarching responsibility to develop, maintain, and ensure adherence to appropriate policies for data ownership and management.

3.   Authority and Responsibilities

    3.1   The Senior Vice Provost for Research (SVPR). The SVPR has the authority and responsibility for administering and enforcing this policy for UNH, including, but not limited to, the following:

        3.1.1   Communicating this policy to all members of the UNH community;

        3.1.2   Ensuring UNH complies with terms of sponsored agreements, including requirements to share research data;

        3.1.3   Protecting rights of faculty, staff, students, and other investigators to access data from projects/activities in which they participated as researchers at or under the auspices of UNH2;

        3.1.4   Securing UNH’s intellectual property rights3; and

        3.1.5   Facilitating investigation of charges, such as scientific misconduct or financial conflict of interest in research4.

    3.2   Faculty or Staff Principal Investigator (PI), Other Investigator, or Sponsoring Principal Investigator (Sponsoring PI).

        3.2.1   Each PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI and each member of the research group is responsible for following this policy and the PI's, Other Investigator's, or Sponsoring PI's established practices for the research project/activity.

        3.2.2   The PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI for a research project/activity is responsible for all aspects of:  (1) procuring and maintaining research data, including collection and/or recording, and providing adequate accompanying documentation; (2) security during collection, maintenance, and retention phases; (3) timely access to data, materials, and essential records; (4) sharing research data and results as required; and (5) retention. The PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI for a research project/activity is responsible for carrying out these responsibilities in a manner consistent with the standard practices for her/his discipline and/or the terms of a governing sponsored agreement. They are also responsible for educating those supervised about these practices and associated rationale.

    3.3   Student Investigator. Each Student Investigator is responsible for following this policy and the direction of her/his Sponsoring PI. (See also footnote 1.)

4.   Applicability and Scope

    4.1   This policy applies to all members of the UNH community including, but not limited to, faculty, staff, students; visiting scholars, scientists, and postdoctoral fellows; and any other persons at the UNH involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of research at or under the auspices of UNH.

    4.2   This policy applies regardless of the source of support for the research project/activity and therefore does not distinguish between funded and unfunded efforts, except where specific sponsor requirements prevail.

    4.3   This policy should not be construed to limit the right of any member of the UNH community who is an Investigator on a project/activity to have access to and to work with the research data generated in that project/activity, nor should this policy be construed to constrain the practices that are particular to the field of inquiry of which the data are a part.

5.   Ownership5 and Custody (See also section 10.)

    5.1   Faculty or Staff Principal Investigator (PI) or Other Investigator. UNH shall own all research data generated for research projects/activities initiated by a PI or Other Investigator in each of the following instances:

        5.1.1   The Investigator performed the research project/activity while supported by UNH-administered funds in the form of salary, wages, or stipend, including externally-sponsored funds; or

        5.1.2   The Investigator used UNH-owned facilities or equipment for the research project/activity (other than UNH libraries and similar facilities available to the general public, or occasional use of equipment and office space); or

        5.1.3   There is a legal obligation that otherwise restricts ownership of the research data by virtue of a prevailing sponsored research, material transfer, confidential disclosure, or other legally binding written agreement accepted in the UNH’s name on behalf of the Investigator.

    5.2   Student Investigator. UNH shall own all research data generated by a Student Investigator for research projects/activities in each of the following instances:

        5.2.1   The Student Investigator performed the research project/activity while supported by University-administered funds in the form of salary, wages, or stipend, including externally-sponsored funds.

        5.2.2   The Student Investigator used UNH-owned facilities or equipment for the research project/ activity (other than UNH libraries and similar facilities available to the general public).

        5.2.3   The Student Investigator received course credit or conducted the research project/activity for her/his thesis or dissertation.

        5.2.4   UNH is the legal owner of the research data by virtue of a prevailing sponsored research, material transfer, confidential disclosure, or other legally binding written agreement accepted in the UNH's name on behalf of the Student or Sponsoring PI.

    5.3   Custody. Through this policy, UNH automatically assigns custody of all UNH-owned research data to the PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI (for students), as applicable, who carries out her/his custodial responsibilities in accordance with this policy.

        5.3.1   For research studies initiated by UNH where data about the institution are collected for purposes of institutional decision making, UNH assigns custody of the research data to an UNH Academic Administrator who carries out her/his custodial responsibilities in accordance with this policy.

6.   Recording Research Data

    6.1   Investigators shall record research data consistent with the standard practices of their discipline. In the absence of such standards, UNH's minimum standard is that research records are written/recorded, dated, and identified by the project title and name(s) of the individual(s) conducting the activity, experiment(s), or other investigation(s). Whatever the organizational system used, the Investigator should ensure that all personnel involved with the research project/activity, including any key administrative personnel, understand and adhere to the system.

7.   Maintaining/Retaining Research Data

    7.1   General principles:

        7.1.1   Research data and associated materials/correspondence must be retained in sufficient detail and duration to allow appropriate response to questions about research accuracy, authenticity, primacy, and compliance with laws and regulations governing the conduct of research.

        7.1.2   The recordkeeping systems/practices used by Investigators should allow unmediated access by UNH over their entire retention period. Of particular importance are instances in which an Investigator leaves UNH.

        7.1.3   Investigators are responsible for the physical storage and security of research data during collection and retention periods, consistent with the standard practices of their discipline and/or the terms of a sponsored agreement. Of particular importance are issues involving confidentiality and general management of data obtained from human subjects, security of research data against theft or loss, and maintenance of backup or archival copies of research data that may be needed in the event of a disaster, as well as any software.

    7.2   Data Retention Period. Except as noted below, UNH requires a data retention period of at least: (a) three years from the date of data collection, (b) three years from the termination of a sponsored agreement under which the data were collected (or longer if the agreement mandates), or (c) three years from the publication of a paper based on the data. The longest term of the three options cited shall be the controlling period.

        7.2.1   Exceptions:

            7.2.1.1   For Student Investigators, research data must be retained in an authorized manner until the pertinent three year controlling period (above) has elapsed, the student's degree is awarded, or the research project/activity is closed or completed, whichever is longer. In addition, if the student’s department requires a longer retention period, the latter would prevail.

            7.2.1.2   When existing research data are relevant to an allegation of misconduct in scholarly activity or of financial conflict of interest, or to an open case of litigation, claim, or audit, the retention period must extend at least to the resolution of the case and final action taken, comply with the retention requirements of the policy/regulation/law governing the case (e.g., seven years for cases adjudicated under the UNH policy on Misconduct in Scholarly Activity), or the three year controlling period (above) has elapsed, whichever is longer.

            7.2.1.3   Data relevant to intellectual property interests must be retained for as long as may be necessary to protect those interests, at minimum for the (above) three year controlling period. (For example, data relevant to patent applications must be retained in accordance with US Patent and Trademark Office guidelines). (http://www.uspto.gov)

            7.2.1.4   Data subject to specific federal, state, or local regulation must be retained for the period indicated by the regulation, or the three year controlling period (above), whichever is longer. (For example, most records of radioactive material use must be retained for as long as UNH is granted a license by the New Hampshire Bureau of Radiological Health. Consult the UNH Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) for guidance.

            7.2.1.5   When records are transferred to or maintained by the federal awarding agency, the three year retention requirement is not applicable to the award recipient (UNH).

    7.3   Destruction of Data. At the discretion of the PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI, research data may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of after retention period requirements have been met. (See section 7.2) In some cases it may be advisable to document the manner of destruction if, for example, animals, human subjects, or hazardous materials were involved.

8.   Accessing Research Data

    8.1   Members of Research Groups. Reasonable access to research data should normally be available to any member of the research group in which the data were collected, when such access is not limited otherwise by written agreement, policy, or regulation. Prior to the initiation of a research project/activity, the PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI should come to a written understanding with each Student Investigator and/or member of the research group, specifying who has access to what research data and when. For unique materials prepared in the course of the research, such as intermediates in chemical synthesis, cell lines, or reagents, items that can be proportioned should be divided among members of a research group at different locations under negotiated terms of a written Material Transfer Agreement. If there is any possibility that a copyright or patent application might emerge from a group project or other collaborative effort, the PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI should promptly contact UNHInnovation for guidance.

    8.2   UNH. There may be instances in which it is necessary for UNH to access research data in situations including, but not limited to, sponsor requests,  patent disputes, allegations of data misuse, subpoena, or Freedom of Information Act/Right to Know Law requests. To facilitate necessary, timely, and appropriate access to research data, UNH reserves the right to take physical possession of such data. This responsibility lies with the SVPR.

        8.2.1   With Prior Notification. Where there exists a legitimate official need to take physical possession of research data in situations not covered by existing UNH policies such as those on Intellectual Property, Misconduct in Scholarly Activity, Financial Conflict of Interest in Research, or Privacy and Security of Technological Resources, the SVPR will notify the Investigator in writing of such need. The SVPR's request will describe the data sought and set forth the legitimate official need(s) sufficient to justify the request. The Investigator may appeal the request to the UNH President. Any such appeal must be in writing and submitted to the President within 5 days of the SVPR's request. The President shall review the appeal, make any further inquiry deemed appropriate, determine whether there is sufficient legitimate official need, and inform the Investigator of the decision in writing within 5 working days of receipt of the appeal. The President's decision shall be final.

        8.2.2   Without Prior Notification. If the SVPR determines it would be impractical (e.g., deceased Investigator) or would be contrary to UNH's interests (e.g., Investigator has violated a UNH contractual obligation) to notify the Investigator that the SVPR intends to take physical possession of the research data, the SVPR will present the written request and justification to the UNH President. The President will determine whether to grant the request, and her/his decision shall be final. If the request is granted, the President will communicate this decision to the Investigator after the research data have been secured by the SVPR.

9.   Sharing Research Data

    9.1   UNH recognizes the importance of data sharing in the advancement of knowledge and education.

    9.2   Research data created by Investigators may be shared for research or scholarly purposes consistent with standard practices of their discipline with other individuals when such sharing is not limited by written agreement, policy, or regulation. Investigators shall make every effort to protect intellectual property rights as defined and governed by the UNH Intellectual Property policy.

    9.3   Certain external sponsors (e.g., the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Public Health Service) require that data gathered in the course of research supported with their funds be shared broadly in a timely manner after the associated research results have been published or provided to the sponsor. When data sharing is not governed otherwise by another written agreement or an applicable policy or regulation, research data created by Investigators may be shared in a manner consistent with standard practices of their discipline. Tangible research materials (e.g., cell lines, technical data, manufactures of matter, or any unique material) shall be shared only by specific agreement with persons or entities outside UNH (or vice-versa). Such specific agreements may include but are not limited to Material Transfer Agreements, Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreements, License Agreements, Grants, and Contracts.

10.   UNH Use of Research Data

    10.1   UNH retains a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to use all research data for purposes of internal research, education, and/or protection of intellectual property when the data are generated at or under the auspices of UNH.

11.   Disposition of UNH-owned Research Data when Investigator Permanently Leaves UNH and/or Ceases Involvement in Project or Activity

    11.1   Faculty or Staff Principal Investigator (PI), Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI.

        11.1.1   The PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI should come to a written understanding with each Student Investigator and/or member of the research group, specifying which parts of the research data may be copied and taken by the individual when s/he leaves the group or ceases involvement in the research project/activity. The written understanding should address research data generated both before and after the individual's departure from the research group or cessation of her/his involvement in the research project/activity. The original data must remain in the custody of the PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI.

        11.1.2   If/when the PI, Other Investigator, or Sponsoring PI permanently leaves UNH, s/he may normally take original research data for which s/he is custodian. In doing so, s/he must notify her/his Dean/Director of the location of such data. However, original research data must remain at UNH when (a) the data have been used for a patent application filed or pending filing by UNH , (b) the research data are relevant to an ongoing inquiry/investigation under UNH's policy on Misconduct in Scholarly Activity or (c) the funding sponsor of the project/activity specifically requires UNH retain original data. Departing PIs, Other Investigators, and Sponsoring PIs are obligated to hold the data in trust for UNH and return the data when requested to do so. The data must not be disposed of within the controlling retention period (see section 7.2) without written permission of UNH’s SVPR.

    11.2   Student Investigators. Upon departure from UNH, a Student Investigator may take a copy of UNH-owned data related to her/his research project/activity (including thesis or dissertation). (See section 5.2) However, s/he must leave the original research data, including laboratory notebooks, with the Sponsoring PI.

12.   Appeal of Determination of Ownership

    12.1   Faculty or Staff Principal Investigator or Other Investigator. In cases where assertions of UNH ownership of research data are in dispute, the individual with the dispute should initiate a written appeal to the SVPR. Within 30 days of receipt of the appeal, the SVPR shall appoint an ad hoc review committee consisting of three persons. One person shall be selected by the individual(s) to be represented, one by the SVPR, and one by the Provost. The review committee shall make the ownership determination which shall take effect unless a further appeal is made by the individual(s) involved, or by the SVPR. Within 30 days of appointment of the review committee, the committee's decision will be communicated in writing by the SVPR to the individual who initiated the appeal. If a further appeal is indicated, the review committee will present the case to the UNH President, whose written decision shall be issued within 15 days of her/his receipt of appeal, and shall be final and binding upon all parties.

    12.2   Student Investigators. A student wishing to appeal UNH ownership of research data generated in the student’s research project/activity conducted at or under the auspices of UNH should initiate a written appeal to the Dean of the Graduate School, if a graduate student, or to the undergraduate college/school Dean if an undergraduate student. Within 30 days of receipt of the appeal, the Dean, in consultation with the Sponsoring PI and the SVPR (or her/his representative), shall make a determination as to whether an exception to this policy shall be granted and ownership of the research data assigned to the student. The Dean's decision will be communicated promptly in writing to the student. If a further appeal is indicated, the Dean will present the case to the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs whose written decision shall be issued within 15 days of her/his receipt of appeal and shall be final and binding upon all parties.

13.   Enforcement

    13.1   Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy will be considered a deviation from accepted standards of conducting research at UNH.

    13.2   The SVPR will investigate alleged violations of this policy and will make recommendations for action to the UNH President. Breaches of policy include, but are not limited to: Failure to maintain/retain research data as stipulated; and failure to provide to UNH research data as outlined in Section 8. If the President determines that the policy has been violated, he/she may impose sanctions including, but not limited to: Formal admonition; a letter to the individual’s personnel file; notification to the study sponsor; or withholding of degree.


Footnotes
1For purposes of this Policy, individuals appointed to positions at UNH as Postdoctoral Research or Teaching Associates and NIH Postdoctoral Trainees - as distinct from Postdoctoral Fellows - are considered to have the same rights and responsibilities as Student Investigators.
2See the Faculty Handbook and Students' Rights, Rules and Responsibilities.
3See the UNH Intellectual Property policy.
4See University policies on Financial Conflict of Interest in Research and Misconduct in Scholarly Activity.
5Issues involving potential financial gain or commercial value of intellectual property based on or derived from research data are covered by the UNH Intellectual Property policy.

 

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