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Institutional policy on research data management and sharing

This policy is currently under revision.


1. For the purposes of this policy, research data is defined as recorded factual material commonly retained by and accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings.

2. Birkbeck recognises the importance of the principle of public accessibility of research data to the integrity of the research process, and the value of research data as a resource both to the originating researcher(s) and to subsequent researchers for data re-use and meta-analysis.

3. Birkbeck further recognises that publicly-funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, and should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner that does not impinge upon the intellectual property of the originating researcher(s).


4. Metadata records describing all datasets collected under RCUK-funded research projects led by members of the College (except bona fide pilot data) should be lodged with the College Data Management Officer prior to publication of research based on or reporting analyses of that data, or within 12 months of data collection (whichever is sooner). It is the responsibility of the PI leading the project to ensure that such metadata is appropriately lodged.

5. The College Data Management Officer will ensure that researchers within the college have access to a metadata template that, when correctly completed, will provide all necessary metadata. Completion of that template will involve providing a description of the research data that is sufficient to allow others to understand what research data exists, why, when and how it was generated, and how to access it.

6. Where it is appropriate to restrict access to the underlying research data due (e.g.) to commercial reasons, the metadata record should include details of this restriction and the conditions that must be met in order to access the research data.

7. While submission of a metadata record to the College Data Management Officer is mandatory for RCUK funded research, submission of metadata records relating to research funded through other means is also encouraged.

8. Upon receipt by the College Data Management Officer, metadata records will be published on the internet and indexed so that they may be found by major search engines. In addition to a description of the research data, the published record should provide details of how third parties might access the associated research data (see below).

9. Where appropriate, publications in the College’s institutional repository should provide a link to any metadata records that describe the data on which the published work is based.

10. All research publications arising from RCUK-funded research should include a footnote or acknowledgement directing readers to the relevant metadata.


11. Research data accompanying each metadata record for RCUK-funded research must be lodged either with an appropriate national or international database or, where no such database exists, with the College Data Management Officer. The dataset should normally be lodged at the same time as the metadata record.

12. Lodging of research data with the College Data Management Officer for datasets resulting from published research funded by other sources is encouraged under the same terms and conditions that apply for RCUK-funded research and subject to payment of curation and storage costs.

13. Where practicable, research data should be transformed to non-proprietary digital formats by the originating researcher(s) prior to lodging with the College Data Management Officer, so as to simplify storage and curation.


14. Research datasets may be classified according to accessibility as: open access; embargoed access; or restricted access.

15. For all three cases, access requests should be via the metadata record. Access requests will normally be serviced by the College Data Management Officer, in conjunction with the researcher who submitted the metadata record. Access requests will be automatically logged, with access logs maintained by the College Data Management Officer and available on request for inspection by the originating researcher(s).

16. For open access research data, third party access requires completion of a form including name and valid contact details (including affiliation if appropriate) of the person requesting access and agreement to the College Data Access Terms and Conditions. Those Terms and Conditions include: acknowledging the original source in any publications arising from use of the data, not sharing the data without consent with additional parties, and not misrepresenting the data or presenting it out of context. Additional terms and conditions may be specified for specific datasets by the originating researcher(s), and additional generic terms and conditions may be specified from time to time by the College Research Committee.

17. Open access research data relating to human participants must not contain any information that might be used to identify individual participants or that might compromise ethical aspects of the original research.

18. For research data that is embargoed, a release date must be provided by the originating researcher at the time of lodging the metadata record. (The embargo provides the originating researcher with a period of privileged access so that she/he may fully analyse and publish her/his results.) The length of the embargo period will vary with discipline, but the release date should not normally be more than 24 months after lodging the associated metadata. The embargoer should also indicate whether, at the end of the embargo, access to the stored data should revert to open access or restricted access. In exceptional cases the originating researcher may adjust an embargo period after submitting the metadata (e.g. if the researcher is still analysing the data).

19. For research data that is classified as restricted or embargoed, the published metadata record will include a mechanism for contacting the College Data Management Officer, who will be responsible for servicing third-party access requests (in consultation with the originating researcher(s)).

20. For research data that is classified as restricted, the originating researcher(s) must document in the metadata record the reason for restricting access, as well as reasonable conditions that should be met by a third party for access to be granted. (Reasons might include, for example, that the research data is ‘commercially confidential’, in which case access might be made available to others subject to a suitable legally enforceable non-disclosure agreement.)

21. The College Data Management Officer will ensure that research data is stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act, and will be responsible for controlling access by third parties to stored research data as described above.

22. For open access data stored under the auspices of the College (rather than data stored in national or international archives), the College Data Management Officer will ensure that the data is accessible with a robust digital object identifier (DOI), and that this DOI is included with the corresponding metadata.

23. Where research data is collected within a funded project, that data will be preserved for a period at least as long as stipulated by the funder.

24. Stored research data should, from time-to-time, be retrieved by the College Data Management Officer to ensure its integrity.

25. In the case of data stored in proprietary digital formats, the College Data Management Officer should, in conjunction with the originating researcher(s), periodically ensure that the format remains current, supplementing the stored research data with an updated copy if necessary.