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5700 - Research Data

Last updated: July 01, 2005

PREAMBLE: This section outlines UI policies concerning research data ownership, retention, and access. It was added to the Handbook in July of 2005. Further information may be obtained from the vice president of research and economic development (208-885-6689). (ed. 9-10)


A. Purpose
B. Definitions
C. Ownership of Research Data
D. Custody of Research Data
E. Retention of Research Data
F. Access to Research Data
G. Transfer of Research Data
H. Policy Oversight and Dispute Resolution

A. PURPOSE.  The preparation and retention of appropriate records is an essential component of a research endeavor, and in many cases is controlled by federal regulations. These endeavors include all aspects of university research in which data are obtained, tested and evaluated. The University of Idaho (UI), its faculty, students, and staff have a common interest and a shared responsibility to assure that research data are recorded appropriately, retained for a reasonable length of time, and made available for review under appropriate circumstances. Original research records are essential to protect intellectual property rights, to answer ongoing questions regarding management of a research program, and to address questions that may arise regarding the propriety of research conduct.


B-1. “Research data”, as used throughout this section, means recorded information, regardless of form or the media on which it may be recorded. The term includes computer software (computer programs, computer data bases, and documentation thereof), business protocols and processes, data of a scientific or technical nature (including DNA and genotypes), and data and statistics from the social sciences (including surveys, political, geographic, and government information). The term does not include information incidental to award administration, such as financial, administrative, cost or pricing, or management information. In practice, data include, but are not limited to, material contained in laboratory notebooks or other media such as electronic storage devices, video tapes, and printouts. Research materials or tangible products generated by the research (such as genetic linkages) may also be considered research data. Research data does not include class materials, professional articles and textbooks. However, research data that is referenced or included in such works and was obtained as part of research performed at UI in the course and scope of employment or study, supported by UI administered funds, or conducted using UI facilities is included under this policy.

B-2. A “database,” as used throughout this section, is a work formed by selecting and assembling preexisting materials (generally facts or data unprotected by copyright) in a unique way to form an original work of authorship.

B-3. “Senior investigator”, as used throughout this section, means the individual acting as the technical contact with the sponsor of the research.

B-4. “Principal investigator” (PI), as used throughout this section, means the individual responsible for the administrative and programmatic aspects of the proposed project.

B-5. “Responsible investigator”, as used throughout this section, means the faculty, staff, or student researcher creating the data, whether or not they are also the principal investigator or senior investigator.

B-6. “Scientific misconduct”, as used throughout this section, means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.  It also means any material failure to comply with federal requirements that uniquely relate to the conduct of research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data. (See 3230)

B-7.  “Official inquiry”, as used throughout this section, means gathering information and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of scientific misconduct warrants an investigation.

B-8. “Official investigation”, as used throughout this section, means the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred, and if so, to determine the responsible person and the seriousness of the misconduct.

B-9. “Materials transfer agreement” (MTA), as used throughout this section, means a legal agreement, which is required whenever a tangible research product (material) is being transferred from provider to recipient. Material may be any form of biological materials, such as cultures, cell lines, plasmids, nucleotides, proteins, transgenic animals or plants, pharmaceuticals, other chemical compounds, electronic components or devices, maskworks, or other tangible research products. This type of agreement is used when we receive materials from other institutions or companies or we send material out. The purpose of the MTA is to govern such issues as: a) ownership of the transferred material and any of the modifications and derivatives made by recipient; b) limits on the use of the material by the recipient, and to recover, where necessary, any costs in providing the material; c) confidentiality of information relating to the material, and publication restrictions; d) rights to inventions and use of research results; e) protect intellectual property or valuable know-how; and f) protect institutions from legal liability as a result of the use of the material or any results obtained. MTAs are available from UI’s Chief Technology Transfer Officer (208-885-4630).

B-10. “Tangible research material”, as used throughout this section, means tangible items produced in the course of research projects, such as biological (cell lines, germplasm, or micro-organisms for example) or chemical substances, electronic materials (chips, circuits, or maskworks for example), software or other tangible products of research.

C. OWNERSHIP OF RESEARCH DATA. Research data, the notebooks and other media on which they may be recorded, supporting materials such as tangible research products, and research databases belong to UI. UI may make such disposition of these properties and property rights as it sees fit, consistent with law and policy.

D. CUSTODY OF RESEARCH DATA. All original research data, including both original data and analyses of data, shall be preserved in the custody of the senior investigator on behalf of UI. Departing investigators are entitled to take copies of their personal notebooks and other written or electronic data from projects on which they worked, but original data and tangible research products (e.g., reagents, databases) remain at UI unless an exception is made in writing by the vice president of research and economic development. The senior investigator is charged with the integrity, preservation and security of the data, and appropriate marking of all databases and other UI intellectual property included in the research data. Senior members of research teams have obligations to discuss responsibilities of data management and retention with other members of the research team. Senior investigators for each research program are obligated to ensure that sufficient records are kept to document the experimental methods used and the accuracy of data collected as well as the methods and accuracy of data interpretation. In cases involving scientific misconduct (see 3230), imminent loss of custody, or at other appropriate times the UI, upon request of the vice president of research and economic development or designee, may take immediate custody of research data. (ed. 9-10)

E. RETENTION OF RESEARCH DATA.  Research data, including the primary experimental results, must be retained for a minimum of five years to allow analysis and repetition by others of published material resulting from those data. Research data resulting from sponsored programs are to be retained by UI for a period of three (3) years after submission of the final report on the research project for which the data were collected, unless a longer retention period is specified by the sponsor or additional time is required to meet the five year minimum. If a legal action, an official inquiry, or an official investigation (see 3230) concerning a research activity is underway, all data related to the project must be retained and made accessible until all issues are resolved. In addition, the research data should be kept for as long as may be required to protect any patents (20 years from patent application filing date) or other intellectual property (contact Idaho Research Foundation at 208-885-4550) resulting from this work or required by an external funding source. In the event an investigator leaves UI for any reason, he/she must notify his/her supervisor of the designated custodian and location of research records covered by this policy.

F. ACCESS TO RESEARCH DATA.  UI retains the right of access to the supporting records for all research performed at UI in the course and scope of employment or study, supported by UI administered funds, or conducted using UI facilities, provided such access to the records shall be for reasonable cause, at reasonable times and after reasonable notice. The UI's right of access to the data shall continue regardless of the location of the responsible investigator or the research data. Information or data that would violate the confidentiality of sources or subjects involved in the research shall not be disclosed except in accordance with applicable federal, state, and UI laws, regulations, and policies. Human participants (see 5200) are allowed to access research data that pertains to themselves but not to access research data that pertains to others. Extramural sponsors providing support to UI or appropriate governmental officials also may have the right to review the data and records resulting from their extramural support. Investigators, co-investigators, students, visiting researchers, post doctoral fellows and staff, including collaborators at other institutions who are an integral part of a research project have the right to review all records and data that they gathered or created, or that support publications for which they are named authors. Tangible research materials or products generated by the research may be shared with other researchers or institutions, except for completed survey instruments, under the terms of a UI-approved Materials Transfer Agreement.

G. TRANSFER OF RESEARCH DATA. Departing investigators are entitled to take copies of Research data from projects on which they worked. Original data and tangible research products, however, must be retained at UI.

If a principal investigator leaves UI and an ongoing project is to be moved to another institution, custody of original data retention materials may be transferred with the approval of the vice president of research and economic development, and with written agreement from the PI's new institution that guarantees: (1) its acceptance of custodial responsibilities for the data; and (2) UI access to the data should that become necessary. Original data retention materials generated in the course of research projects completed within the prior three year period may be retained by the PI with prior approval of the vice president of research and economic development and with written agreement that the PI: (1) accepts custodial responsibilities for the data; and (2) guarantees UI access to the data should that become necessary. In some cases (e.g., data supporting a patent application, data generated and/or used by other UI investigators, or as required by the terms of extramural funding agreements) it may be necessary for original data to be kept at UI. In such cases, an individual written agreement may be signed which allows the investigator to access, and to copy data, where practical. In cases of multi-institutional studies, the institution of the Senior Investigator shall be responsible for guaranteeing appropriate access to, use of, and retention of primary data. When required by law, regulation or contract, or when in its best interests, UI may transfer title or custody of research data and records as it sees fit. In such cases UI, insofar as possible, will ensure access to that data to investigators and others. (ed. 9-10)

H. POLICY OVERSIGHT AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION. The vice president of research and economic development has responsibility for policy oversight and resolution of disputes resulting from the policy. If a faculty member wants to contest the decision of the vice president of research and economic development then this can be done through an appeal to a committee of researchers appointed by the president from the Research Council. (ed. 9-10)

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