Data ownership and access , Nō wai te raraunga, mā wai hoki?

Learn about ownership of your research data, copyright, licensing, and ethical collection and use of cultural and other data.

The extent to which research data, results and outcomes can be accessed and shared depends on:

  • rules on ownership, rights and commercial interests
  • ethical concerns such as privacy, confidentiality and cultural sensitivity.

View a video about different types of data access

Ownership and agreements

Research and research data are rarely created or collected without an agreement of some kind. Whether it be a funding agreement or a collaboration agreement between parties, an agreement establishes what research is to be done, and by whom.

It is important that the agreement also addresses ownership in relation to data supplied by the parties for use in the research work (data inputs) and for the data outputs from the research.

These decisions can affect how and where the data will be stored, and how and if it will be possible to share the data outputs with others in the future.

Incorporating these decisions into an agreement will mean they are dealt with at the earliest opportunity, ideally before the research begins.

Intellectual property policy

In general, Massey University’s intellectual property policy specifies that Massey claims legal ownership of intellectual property created at the university, but that staff and students retain the copyright over their work.

We recommend that you read the full policy and understand how it applies to your specific research situation.

Copyright is a property right that exists in certain categories of original works listed in the Copyright Act 1994.

Copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. A dataset can attract copyright if it meets certain criteria or thresholds of human authorship, originality, or creativity. For example, though raw measurements are not copyrightable, the organisation of those numbers by a researcher is.

Find out more about copyright as it applies to carrying out and publishing research

Learn more about commercialisation of intellectual property from Massey research

Read how the Copyright Act 1994 applies to datasets


A licence states what can be done with research data and how that data can be redistributed.

Licensing your research outputs (including data) communicates your explicit permission for others to use your work under specific conditions. A copyright licence makes sure data is attributed to you. It will also apply some restrictions around how your data can be used and shared in other research.

Creative Commons

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

Learn more about Creative Commons licensing

Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand resources

The following flowcharts from the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) are intended to guide you through the licensing process. The colours indicate different steps in this activity:

  • blue for licensing questions
  • orange indicates caution is required
  • red indicates concern or the need for legal advice
  • green indicates you can complete the process.

Ethical data collection, management and use

Consider the ethical implications of how you will collect your data, manage it and provide access to others.


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.


In most circumstances you should remove identifying characteristics from your published data to make sure individuals cannot be identified. This includes making sure, where possible, that individuals will remain anonymous if their data is linked with other datasets.

Learn about research ethics at Massey

Sensitive data guide - Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC)

Cultural research data

These resources provide guidance on the ethical conduct of Māori and Pasifika research, including considerations for research data. You can use these to inform your data management activities, including decisions on access and sharing.


Māori data refers to the digital or digitisable information or knowledge that is about or from Māori:

  • people
  • language
  • culture
  • resources
  • environments.

Māori data sovereignty refers to the inherent rights and interests of Māori in relation to the collection, ownership and application of Māori data.

Māori data sovereignty

The Māori Data Sovereignty Network outlines the key terms and principles of Māori data sovereignty.

Māori Data Sovereignty Network

Māori language resources and traditional knowledge

See Schedule 7 of the Massey University Intellectual Property Policy.

Traditional Knowledge (TK) labels are human and machine-readable digital tags. They provide a framework for sharing cultural materials that respects the wishes of the Indigenous communities to whom they belong.

TK labels - local contexts

Māori research ethics

The Health Research Council of New Zealand has put together a summary of Te Ara Tika guidelines for Māori research ethics. You can also read the guidelines in full.

Genomic research with Māori

Te Mata Ira outlines a framework for addressing Māori ethical issues within the context of genetic or genomic research. Read it in conjunction with Te Ara Tika.

Further information

Further information on Māori research and links to contacts.


Pacific Research Guidelines and Protocols

For questions relating to the conduct of Pasifika research, contact the Massey University Pacific Research and Policy Centre.

Contact a subject or Māori services librarian

We're here to help you with your research or teaching. Contact a subject or Māori services librarian by email or book an appointment.