Feb 022012

University of Hertfordshire’s Data Management Policy, updated in 2011, contains several documents and appendices which govern how data in general, and research data in particular, should be gathered, used, disposed of, or retained. There is a section dedicated to research data in the Main policy document and an Appendix to support it.

In a nutshell, the policy says that:

The University owns data generated by its research; it expects data to be managed and shared in a robust and professional manner; and it places the responsibility for proper research data management with the Principal Investigator.

To explain this chain of statements we can cherry pick the Policy’s section entitled ‘Data Management Framework’ and then relate the section on Research Data in full:

6.0 Data Management Framework

6.3 Data Owner

The University of Hertfordshire Higher Education Corporation.

6.6 Data Stewards

6.6.1 Data Stewards are responsible for and accountable to the Chief Information Officer for:

a) the management of the assigned institutional data;
b) … k)

7.0 Research Data

7.1 Data management is an essential and integral part of the responsible conduct of research.

7.2 The University is responsible for:

i) ensuring effective data management to meet internal and external requirements;

ii) retention of research data in sufficient detail for a defined period to enable appropriate responses to any questions about accuracy, authenticity, primacy and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements governing the conduct of research;

iii) for supporting investigation into any allegations of misconduct or regulatory breach (UPR RE0217, refers).

7.3 This policy and the principles and standards that it defines also apply to the management of research data.

University of Hertfordshire data management framework

7.4 Data Steward – research data
For the purposes of research data, the Principal Investigator or agreed equivalent role (such as the Principal Supervisor of Research Students) shall fulfil the role and responsibilities of the Data Steward for the purposes of the collection, management and retention of research data.

The Data Management Framework also has a very useful diagram which illustrates the roles, relationships and chain of responsibilities defined in the policy. The diagram clearly places the Principal Investigator, as the Data Steward for research, at the hub of this policy landscape.

The narrative above is not intended to be overbearing or to wield the stick of policy over researchers at UH. Its purpose is to bring clarity to the issue of responsibility and also to add context to development of the Research Data Toolkit. The Toolkit is all about helping researchers comply with what are reasonable professional standards, and find real benefit for the conduct of their research as a result.

As a final note, the selections above might also imply a proprietary or protectionist tone to the policy. This is not the case. I hope the following clauses from the main policy section counter this impression:

4.2 The University recognises the value of data as an institutional resource and considers that value to be increased through the widespread and appropriate use of data and by virtue of data quality.

4.3 The University considers the value of data to be diminished through misuse, misinterpretation or unnecessary access restrictions.

Additional resources:

UPR 12 – University of Hertfordshire Data Management Policy (various Word and PDF)

Managing Personal Confidential Information UH Staff Guide ( referred to by the policy, PDF)

  3 Responses to “UH Research Data Policy in a nutshell”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. As the basis to form one suitable for the visual arts, we are starting by looking at the existing policies available: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/policy-and-legal/institutional-data-policies
    So all the information that is shared is appreciated!

    MTG (Kaptur)

  2. […] Well there are a few institutions that already have policies in place including Edinburgh, Oxford, Northampton and Hertfordshire. The DCC maintains a list of these with links to relevant institutional data policies. Of course this in itself is a grey area as your institution may well already have a code of practice which covers at least some of this ground. But does the policy (or the code!) always connect to the practice on the ground? Bill Worthington, who leads the Research Data Toolkit (Herts) JISCMRD project, has recently blogged on their work in this area. […]