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Data Policies and expectations

Get information and guidance on the data sharing policies of UCL and the various funding agencies such as UKRI, the research councils the Wellcome Trust.

UCL Research Data policy

The UCL Research Data Policy provides a framework which defines the responsibilities of UCL staff and research students in managing their data. This in turn helps staff and research students to maintain and preserve research data as a first class research object in its own right, making them available to the widest possible audience for the highest possible impact. This policy is intended to ensure that research data created as part of the research process are FAIR - Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

Data should be:

  • Accurate, complete, authentic and reliable;
  • Attributable and citable;
  • Identifiable, retrievable and available with minimal barriers;
  • Secure from loss and degradation;
  • Retained for a minimum of ten years4 after publication or public release;
  • Compliant with legal obligations, ethical responsibilities and the rules of funding bodies.

The policy statements are:

  1. Ensure data are as open as possible, as closed as necessary.
  2. Share responsibility for managing and preserving research data between all members of UCL.
  3. Following primary use (e.g. publication) or when research data is archived for longer-term preservation, these data will be made available in a timely fashion.
  4. Establish clear lines of responsibility so that research data generated at UCL will always have an owner who is responsible for preserving research data.
  5. All research datasets - regardless of where they are archived and how open they are - should be recorded in UCL Research Publications Services or the UCL Research Data Repository.

External funding agencies' expectations

If your project has been funded by one of the major funding agencies they will have policies in place regarding data management and data sharing. It is important to be aware of these policies and what your responsibilities are. There is specific guidance for several major funding agencies available. If you are governed by more than one policy, always adhere to the most stringent one. Read about the policies of the major funding bodies, below

If your funding is from a smaller agency, such as a charity, they may not have a specific policy in place. UCL as an institution however has its own policies and expectations regarding research data. You are expected to follow this policy to be in line with best practice for handling research data. 

    Policies and Links

    AHRC

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    AHRC grant applications will often require evidence of how you will mange your research data, in the form of a data management plan. Consult the guidance for specific grant types and funding calls for more information as this may vary.

    Data retention period

    AHRC state that data produced should be held for at least three years after the end of the project. This is less than the expectations of UCL, which expects data to be held for at least 10 years.

    Data sharing & availability expectation

    The data must be shared accessibly, but the decision of where best to store it is down to the individual researchers. Data should be shared as soon as practically possible and no later than at the point of publication of the research findings.

    Costs associated with storage and sharing of data should be included in the initial grant application.

    BBSRC

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    All grant applications to the BBSRC should include a data management. BBSRC provide guidance on this document on their website.

    Costs related to data storage and data sharing can be included as part of the full economic cost of a research project.

    Data retention period

    Data should be retained for a minimum of 10 years after the end of a project.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    There is an expectation that data should be shared, but the decision on how best to do this lies with individual researchers or groups so they may choose the most appropriate route for the data they have. Where an existing community resource exists, this should be used in preference to a general repository.

    BBSRC acknowledge in certain research areas it is standard practice for researchers to have a period of exclusive access to their data.

    • Crystallography (Protein Data Bank) - the community has agreed a maximum 12-month delay between publishing the first paper on a structure and making coordinates public for secondary use.
    • Sequencing (EMBL Nucleotide Sequence database) – submitted data can be withheld from public access until publication of results but no later.
    • Metabolomics (MeT-RO) – Up to a six-month delay in publication can be requested.
    • Arabidopsis microarray data (NASC Affymetrix service) – all data are made available after a maximum one-year confidential period.
    Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

    Policy Links

    The Foundation has data sharing requirements as part of their open access policy which specifies that "Data Underlying Published Research Results Will Be Accessible and Open Immediately".

    Cancer Research UK

    Policy links

    CRUK expect that “data arising from the research that it funds should be managed and made available as widely and freely as possible to maximise public benefit”, while making allowances for periods of exclusive use of the data and commercial exploitation.

    Grant application guidelines

    CRUK will ask for a data sharing plan as part of the grant application process. They provide extensive guidance on data sharing and writing data sharing plans and the plan must be completed using their specific template.

    Costs related to data management and sharing should be included in the grant application.

    Data retention period

    At least five years after the end of the grant, which is less stringent than UCL’s own policy.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    The use of publishing data with DOIs and the use of ORCID identifiers are encouraged to allow for proper data citation and for researchers to be appropriately credited for their contributions. Data should be released at the point of publication of research findings, but restrictions are allowed for IP protection, third party agreements, or for a period of exclusive use of the data in line with common practices in particular research areas.

    EC Horizon 2020

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    A data management plan must be completed for all projects enrolled in the open research data pilot. The data management plan must be submitted as a deliverable within the first six months and updated throughout the project when appropriate.

    Data retention period

    No explicit retention period is specified.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    There is a general expectation that data should be made as openly available as possible, with allowances made for commercial exploitation, or ethical reasons to not share the data openly.

    EPSRC

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    A data management plan is not specifically required.

    Data retention period

    Initially 10 years availability of data is required. Data should be retained for 10 years since the last time the data was requested or accessed.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    All publications should include a data availability statement which described how the underlying data can be accessed and scrutinised. Data must be made available, unless restricted for legal or ethical reasons.

    ESRC

    Policy Links

    ESRC have a research data policy and PDF guides containing FAQs and data management plan guidance

    Data retention period

    There is no specific data retention period, but as data is expected to be deposited in a repository at the end of a grant long term preservation is expected.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    ESRC previously mandated that all research data should be deposited with the UK Data Archive. While researchers are now free to select an alternative repository for their data if they choose to.

    MRC

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    Researchers must complete a data management plan and should follow the MRC template. Depending on the nature of the different research projects there are different requirements for the level of detail:

    • 3 pages: Population cohorts, genetic, omics and imaging data, biobanks, and other collections that are potentially a rich resource for the wider research community.
    • 4 pages: Longitudinal studies, involving a series of data collections.
    • ¼ page up to 3 pages: All other research.

    Data retention period

    Data from basic research should be preserved for at least 10 years. Data from population health and longitudinal studies should be kept for 20 years.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    Researchers are encouraged to share data and other outputs of research wherever possible in a timely and responsible manner with as few restrictions as possible. Researchers must be mindful of ethical and legal frameworks in addition to the need to safeguard participant confidentiality. A limited, defined period of exclusive use of the data is acceptable according to the nature and value of the data.

    NERC

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    NERC has a unique expectation that researchers funded by NERC should work closely with specific NERC-affiliated data centres to effectively manage their data and deposit their data there at the end of a project. More details on NERC data centres are presented here:

    NIH (US dept. of health)

    Policy Links

    NIH have a range of policies depending on the type of data. Consult their detailed guidance on scientific data sharing.

    Grant application guidelines

    A data sharing plan is expected to be included in the application.

    Data retention period

    None specified.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    Data should be shared at the point of publication of findings that rely on the data. The decision of which repository or archive to use for this purpose lies with the individual researcher. Costs related to data sharing can be included in the grant application.

    STFC

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    A data management plan is usually required as part of the proposal. More detailed information can be found here:

    Data retention period

    None specified.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    Data should be made available as soon as possible in a recognised research repository or subject specific database, and within in six months of publication of results. If data is not released for any reason a justification must be provided.

    Wellcome Trust

    Policy Links

    Grant application guidelines

    An outputs management plan must be completed as part of the grant application process

    Data retention period

    To be compliant with the Wellcome Trust policies data should be available indefinitely through a recognised repository, unless there is a reason to restrict the data.

    Data sharing & availability expectations

    Data, materials and software must be shared with as few restrictions as possible. Data underpinning research papers should made available at the point of publication.

    UKRI

    Policy links

    In addition to these policies, if you are a UKRI grant holder, you may be subject to additional council-specific policies. A list of which is availble on the UKRI website.

    Data sharing & data access statements

    As per the Open Acces policy, researchers in receipt of UKRI funding must have a data access statement in their publications. Data access statements inform

    "... readers where the underlying research materials associated with a paper are available, and how the research materials can be accessed. The statement can include links to the dataset, where applicable and appropriate..." (page 10 of the Open Access policy).

    You are advised to make your research outputs such as data, software etc. as openly available as possible; but placing data access restrictions on outputs due to ethical or legal reasons is fine. You are advised to make any data access restrictions - or any other barriers to data sharing - clear in your data access statement. 

    Managing research outputs

    Published manuscripts

    Published manuscripts must be uploaded into the Research Publications Service (RPS) to ensure open access compliance. For more help with managing your published manuscripts including using the RPS and complying with the UKRI Open Access policy specifically, contact the Open Access team or see our complying with the new Wellcome and UKRI policies guide.

    Research data

    Any research data should be uploaded to the UCL Research Data Repository (and not the RPS). The Research Data Management team manage the data repository service and can assign a DOI as part of a full data citation. You are advised to include the data citation in your data access statement.

    Common principles on research data

    These are taken verbatim: 

    1. "Publicly funded research data are a public good and produced in the public interest. They should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner.
    2. Any organisational and project-specific data management policies and plans you develop should align with wider best practice and standards. For example, data that has acknowledged long-term value should be preserved to remain accessible and usable for future research.
    3. You should record and make metadata available and discoverable to other researchers in a way that helps them to understand the research and reuse potential of the data. Published results should always include information about how to access the supporting data.
    4. To comply with all legal, ethical, disciplinary and commercial requirements for the release of research data, you must make sure that the policies and practices of your research organisation consider these constraints at all stages of the research process.
    5. To make sure you get appropriate recognition, you may be entitled to a limited period of privileged use of the data you have collected and analysed to publish the results of your research. The length of time depends on the research discipline and the research council running the funding opportunity.
    6. To recognise the intellectual contributions of researchers who generate, preserve and share key research datasets, for any research data you use you should acknowledge the source and follow the terms and conditions under which you accessed the data.
    7. We believe it is appropriate to use public funds to support the management and sharing of publicly funded research data. To maximise the research benefit, your mechanisms for these activities should be both efficient and cost effective. As such, all costs associated with research data management are eligible under UKRI funding. Certain conditions apply, for example, expenditure must be incurred before the end date of the grant."

    Additional support

    Many teams across UCL can advise on institutional policy on research ethics, integrity data protection and legal matters if your funding applicaiton needs support in these areas: