Monash University acknowledges that research data management must be consistent with relevant legislation, codes and guidelines. These procedures support its commitment to comply with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) (‘the Code’), ‘Section 2: Management of Research Data and Primary Materials’. The Code states that all individuals and institutions engaged in research have a responsibility to manage research data well, by addressing ownership, storage and retention and access during and beyond the end of the research project.
Separate procedures are available for Higher Degree by Research students.
In all cases this procedure outlines minimum requirements for all staff, adjuncts and visitors at all campuses of the University and its application is subject to provisions in any relevant contracts or funding/collaboration agreements. Additional requirements may also apply in other jurisdictions.
Where there is an inconsistency with local policies at the Sunway Campus, the local requirements prevail.
Definition of terms
Destruction: the irreversible (no reasonable risk that any information may be recovered later) physical obliteration of all existing copies of data carried out using appropriate methods such as shredding or pulping and in the case of electronic data, rendering them unreadable.
Disposal: any action that changes the circumstances of data or removes data from its usual setting including destruction, damage, alteration or transfer of custody or ownership of data.
HDR: Higher Degree by Research
Intellectual Property: any copyright work, circuit layout, eligible layout, design, patent, invention, confidential information, know-how, plant variety, trade mark or other insignia of origin, and any related right.
Large Research Data Store (LaRDS): a central petascale research data store that provides capacity for backed up storage of all types of digital research data.
Metadata: schematised information about attributes of an item or collection of research data that enables it to be identified, retrieved and re-used. Important metadata elements may include subject matter, creators and owners, and technical or contextual information that enables the data to be understood.
Owner: the researcher nominated in project planning as the owner of the research data or as nominated following review when researchers move or leave the project.
Research data: the data, records, files or other evidence, irrespective of their content or form (e.g. in print, digital, physical or other forms), that comprise a research project’s observations, findings or outcomes, including primary materials and analysed data.
Research records: information created, received, used or maintained as evidence of, or information about, the official business and decision-making related to research activities, in print, digital or physical forms.
Researchers: all Monash University staff, adjuncts and visitors engaged in research in all disciplines, irrespective of their location.
Retention: the process of retaining research data according to the periods specified in the Code and archives and records legislation.
Third party research data: any kind of research data that is owned by another researcher, individual or entity that is being used for different research purposes from that for which it was originally created, or that is being used by researchers other than the owner.
1. Research data management awareness
Faculties, heads of academic units and supervisors responsible for performance development must take all reasonable steps to ensure on a regular basis that all researchers are aware in advance of their obligations under this policy and procedures and the guidelines provided on the Monash University Research Data Management website;
Individual researchers are expected to be familiar with this and related research policies and procedures in order to fully understand their compliance obligations and attend training opportunities provided by the University for information and training in data management;
All professional staff involved in the support of research must inform themselves about institutional data management responsibilities as outlined in the above documents and the infrastructure available to Monash researchers for research data management.
2. Research data planning
All researchers must consider research data management issues when planning research projects and other research activities. As a minimum, research data planning should take into account and document the following:
- Ownership of copyright and other intellectual property;
- Ethical requirements, including privacy, confidentiality and cultural sensitivity;
- The length of time for which data must be kept, how and by whom it will be archived, disposed of, or destroyed, at the end of the retention period;
- Secure storage and controlled access; and
- Documentation and metadata so that it can be found, used and managed beyond the end of the project.
The University provides data planning checklists to assist in holistic planning.
Data planning documentation must be kept with other research project documentation or with the research data for the purpose of the future management of the research data;
Where researchers are in doubt about data management planning obligations, they must consult the guidelines provided within the Research Data Management website and/or seek advice from the University Research Data Management Coordinator.
3. Retention of research data and primary materials
Research data must be retained according to the periods specified in the Code and archives and records legislation, and retention plans must be documented during research data planning. In general, the minimum retention period is five years post-publication: however, the specified period can vary depending upon the local jurisdiction, the discipline and type of research, other institutional policies, and the requirements of bodies such as funding agencies and commercial sponsors. For example:
- For most clinical trials, retaining the research data for 15 years or more may be necessary;
- For areas such as gene therapy, research data must be retained permanently (eg patient records);
- If the work has community or heritage value, research data should be kept permanently, preferably within a national collection;
- If results from research are challenged, all relevant data and materials must be retained until the matter is resolved;
- Research records that may be relevant to allegations of research misconduct must be kept according to the terms of the resolution of the matter;
Providing a review does not indicate a need to extend the retention period, research data must be disposed of according to retention and disposal guidelines;
In some cases retaining data for longer periods or permanently may be required or recommended. Any previous disposal recommendations and usage should be reviewed before data is destroyed;
Longer term and permanent retention of data is recommended where the outcomes of research may be of high public interest or contention, may substantially shift the paradigm for the field of enquiry or may have resulted in the identification, registration and use of intellectual property.
4. Ownership, copyright and intellectual property (IP)
Researchers must ensure that ownership of research data is identified and documented at the start of a research project and reviewed and updated whenever appropriate. The documentation should detail how ownership and storage of data and materials will be affected by researchers changing institutions, or withdrawing from collaborative projects;
Researchers at Australian campuses must use third-party research data in accordance with the Monash Copyright Compliance Procedure for Australian Campuses, ‘Section 3: Use of copyright material in research’;
Where researchers are in doubt about copyright obligations, they must consult the guidelines provided within the Copyright website and the Research Data Management website and/or seek advice from the University’s Copyright Adviser or Research Data Management Coordinator;
Monash University (Vice-Chancellor) Regulations Part 5, applies to research data. If in doubt researchers should contact the University Solicitors Office.
Researchers at the South African campus must comply with the Copyright Act of 1978 (Act 98 of 1978, including subsequent amendments);
Researchers at the Malaysian campus must comply with the Copyright Act, 1987 Malaysia. Where researchers are in doubt they must consult the Guidelines for ‘Use of Copyright Material in Research’ in Malaysia and the Intellectual Property Policy (Malaysia);
Funding agencies and other stakeholders (eg, research collaborators and research participants) may also have IP requirements and these must be considered during data management planning.
5. Ethical requirements of data management
Researchers must consider and document ethical requirements relating to data management using the procedures and guidelines outlined on the Monash Research Office Ethics website;
- Researchers on Australian campuses must comply with the existing Monash Conduct and Compliance Procedure - Privacy.
- Where researchers are in doubt about privacy, they must consult the guidelines provided on the Monash Privacy website and contact the Privacy Coordinator for their faculty or unit or the University’s Privacy Officer.
- Staff employed at Monash Malaysia or Monash South Africa should refer to local legislation and/or policies in relation to confidentiality or privacy.
Confidentiality and consent
- Researchers must:
- Respect any confidentiality agreement about stored data that has been made with participants and ensure documentation of same for the awareness of future users;
- Establish consent processes that include information about the form in which the data will be stored (specifically about identifiability of subjects) and the purposes for which the data will be used and/or disclosed;
- Retain records of confidentiality agreements and consents; and
- Secure data so that it is not available for uses to which subjects did not consent.
- Where researchers are in doubt about confidentiality and consent, they must consult the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans, particularly Chapters 2.2 - General Requirements for Consent and 3.2 - Databanks, and seek advice from the University's Human Ethics Office.
Research with Indigenous people
- Researchers must:
- Apply the AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies and Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research or any equivalent guidelines in local jurisdictions when conducting research involving Indigenous people;
- Take into account Indigenous intellectual and cultural property rights, in addition to other copyright and intellectual property requirements; and
- Consider appropriate ways of collecting, storing and accessing data, and communicating with research participants about these issues.
- Where researchers are in doubt about cultural sensitivity and data management, they must seek advice from the University's Human Ethics Office and/or the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies and/or the University’s Research Data Management Coordinator. Where intellectual property is involved, the University Solicitor’s Office must be consulted.
Research with other kinds of communities
- Researchers must document any special data management arrangements made with other types of communities that are participating in research, preferably using the procedures and guidelines outlined on the Monash Research Office Ethics website;
Where researchers are in doubt about ethical issues relating to data management and community-based research, they must seek advice from the University's Human Ethics Office. Where intellectual property is involved, the University Solicitor’s Office must be consulted.
6. Data storage, record keeping, backup and reuse
All those handling research data must:
- Store data securely in a method appropriate for the format of the data and with appropriate metadata and/or documentation;
- Identify non-digital data that is not suitable for digitisation and organise storage in a secure environment in accordance with Records and Archives guidelines;
- Store master copies of digital data in the Monash University LaRDS or faculty/department/academic unit storage that is secure and backed up or ensure that any arrangements for master copies of data stored externally to Monash University are documented in writing at the commencement of the research and that external storage providers comply with Monash University policies and procedures;
- Provide a copy of all research data and sufficient documentation to the relevant academic unit prior to completion or publication of the research to enable this data to be used for research and teaching purposes;
- Document how data will be created, stored and managed, and the provisions for access to data from creation to disposal or permanent preservation;
- Make data available for use whenever possible, taking into account constraints which may arise from ethical, privacy, confidentiality, cultural and intellectual property requirements; and
- Facilitate long term access and preservation by using durable formats to create and store digital and non-digital data.
Standards and agreed processes for creating and maintaining metadata and documentation must be used to facilitate the identification, retrieval and re-use of research data over the time of its potential use.
Data should be stored in a repository or archive for the purposes of validating the research and furthering knowledge where:
- A suitable repository is available;
- The data meets the criteria for deposit; and
- The data can be made available in ways that do not infringe legal or ethical restrictions.
7. Exit Planning
During data planning, researchers should establish and document the ownership of research data and the agreed exit procedures;
Data identified as owned by an individual may be removed from Monash University by the individual on leaving Monash University. The individual should advise the head of academic unit of their intention to take the data, and agree to and document any ongoing access for the unit;
Monash University data will remain the property of the University. Individuals leaving the University may negotiate to take copies of the data with the approval of the head of academic unit. Any arrangements made should be documented and the documentation should be stored with the data;
Processes for individuals or groups exiting from a project using third-party data must be established and documented at the commencement of the project. The documentation must be kept with other project documentaition such as initial agreements on the use of the data.
8. Review and destruction
When destruction of data is required because of ethical commitments or because the data is no longer required, it should be destroyed according to Records and Archives guidelines;
Destruction requirements, including methods, timelines and decision-making processes must be documented in data planning and stored with other project documentation;
Researchers and professional staff must follow the guidelines on How to Destroy Records Securely provided by the University’s Archives and Records Services;
Research data that is scheduled to be destroyed must be reviewed and authorised for destruction by:
- The data owner (where the data is not owned by Monash University); or
- The head of department/academic unit (or delegate) responsible for managing the data;
The reviewer of the data must confirm that the data:
- Is not of archival value and does not need to be permanently retained;
- Is no longer required to carry out the business of the unit; and
- Is not subject to any outstanding legal or ethical requirements, challenges of the research results or allegations of research misconduct.
- Data must not be destroyed without written authorisation and documentation of the data and the destruction processes used.
Heads of departments/academic units
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