Copyright and ownership

As a researcher, you should clarify ownership of, and rights relating to, the research data you will be creating or collecting as part of your research project. Ownership and rights will determine how the data can be managed into the future, so these should be documented early in a project through data planning.

Ownership of research data

If you are a staff member

In general, Monash University owns intellectual property rights, including copyright, in research data originated by academic staff.

If you are a graduate research student

In general, students own the copyright in all materials generated in the course of their studies, including their thesis and the research data, except where the research is a 'collaborative research activity' when the student has to transfer copyright to the University.


Ownership of IP, including copyright, should be covered in the contract for services between Monash University and the contractor. If the contract is not explicit about any requirements for copyright and other IP to be assigned to Monash, then the contractor will usually own the copyright and other IP in any data they create or compile.

External parties

Where research is conducted in collaboration with partners outside of Monash University, or for external agencies (e.g. funding bodies), ownership of copyright and other IP needs to be explicitly agreed to by the parties.

Ownership of copyright and other IP will commonly be dealt with in a document such as a funding agreement, contract or a memorandum of understanding. All researchers should be familiar with the requirements of any funding agreements, contracts and partnership arrangements, and consider these during data planning.

Using third party research data

The use of data from third parties will usually be subject to copyright and/or licensing agreements. Even if research data is freely available for download on the internet, there may be terms and conditions associated with its use.

If you will be using third party research data, you should consider copyright, other IP and contractual issues as part of data planning. Agreements with the data owners will have an impact on how data can be managed during your project and into the future.

Ownership and permissions in existing third party data

  • If the data you wish to use is openly available online, you will need to check for copyright statements or reuse licences to inform you as to if and how you can use the data in your research.
  • If the data is not openly available online or is under copyright, you will need to seek permission for the use and later publication of the data. For advice on how to seek permission, including templates, see:

Working with industry partners or external collaborators

  • Where research is conducted in collaboration with partners outside of Monash University, creation, use and publication of data needs to be explicitly agreed to by all parties.

For detailed information about using third party data, see copyright website or seek advice from the Monash University Copyright Office: