Ownership of and Access to Your Research Data

Benefits of publishing or sharing your research data

Not all data that is discoverable can be freely accessed. Often there are embargoes, access controls, permissions, or licenses associated with data due to a variety of issues such as confidentiality, reuse permissions, and commercial interests.

Watch this video to learn more about different types of data access: Open/Shared/Closed: the World of Data

Don't forget to consider the related issues of:

Ownership

You and your research group should discuss who owns your research data, and agree upon it in writing, when you create your plan at the start of the research project. Ownership affects intellectual property rights, where data can be stored, and how data can be published and shared.

Ownership can be unclear if the project involves:

  • both researchers and students
  • external collaborators
  • specifications from funding agencies
  • collaboration with or funding from commercial organisations

Further advice:

Ethics and Confidentiality

Ethical issues may arise when publishing and sharing your research data. The main concerns include:

  • Consent: You should obtain informed consent before collecting data from participants in research. You may also need consent from participants to publish, share or re-use their data (including publishing it in an open or restricted access archive)
  • Privacy: In most circumstances you should remove identifying characteristics from your published data to ensure that individuals cannot be identified. This includes ensuring, where possible, that individuals will remain anonymous if their data is linked with other datasets.

Further advice:

Copyright

The New Zealand Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ)  says the term “copyright” refers to a bundle of exclusive rights given to owners of original works…In New Zealand, copyright is an automatic unregistered right that comes into existence every time an original work is created, published and performed.

Data (e.g. measurements, recordings, etc.) that are mere facts are not copyrightable. Copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself.

However, a dataset can attract copyright if it meets certain criteria or thresholds of human authorship, originality, or creativity. On this basis, much research data does attract copyright. For example, though the measurements in a database are not copyrightable, the organisation of those numbers is.

In New Zealand, copyright is granted immediately and automatically on the creation of a work, and expires 50 years after the death of the author. The copyright holder has exclusive rights to reproduce, publish, adapt, communicate or perform a work. As copyright holder you have to give permission to anyone else to use the data. However, more often than not, research is intended to be shared, reused, built upon and extended. You enable this by licensing your work.

The web page Copyright and Copyright Transfer Agreements addresses copyright as it applies to carrying out research, and publishing research. It also contains a list of contacts if you have questions.

Licensing

You must place a copyright license on your research data if you are publishing and sharing data outside of the project. In the absence of a license, data and outputs are treated as ‘all rights reserved’, limiting any kind of use or reuse of your data.

Licensing your research outputs communicates your explicit permission for others to use your work under specific conditions. A copyright license ensures that data is attributed to you and will also apply some restrictions around how your data can be used and shared in other research. Take particular care if sharing data with commercial enterprises.

Some publishers may require that a particular license be used, so check before submitting the data to a publication or repository.

Creative Commons licensing is a globally recognised system with six licenses that describe and allow for different levels of sharing and reuse. The licenses range from ‘all rights reserved’ copyright to ‘public domain’.

Find out more about Creative Commons

Publish and Share Your Research Data Tool Kit

Researcher Development

Contact Us

Research Data Management Librarian
Guidance, training opportunities and practical support.

Research Development Team
Data management (funder retention requirements) advice for current and future research projects.

Information Technology Services (ITS)
Data-related services and advice on storage, backup, security, data quality, and metadata identification. Limited software for home installation.

Contact a Subject Librarian
Personal research help by email, phone, or appointment.

Acknowledgements

These guidelines are informed by information provided under open licenses by other organisations including:

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