Constructing Data Access Permissions

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Your research group should consider the permissions you wish to use for making data available under your Data Management Plan.  There are a number of important factors to consider.

1) Does your research project have sufficient permissions necessary to disseminate the project data?

  • did any of the data come from a third party source?
  • if so, did the project obtain permission to disseminate?
  • are there any restrictions you need to include in your permission statement?

2)  Do you need to provide access to all the data produced under a grant?

Requirements for data sharing are determined by the community of interest through the process of peer review and program management. The Federal Government in Circular A-110 (2 CFR 215) defines the default terms and conditions for recipients of federal funding with respect to data rights. It also provides specific guidelines on which research data are not required to be shared or archived. These include:

  • preliminary analyses
  • drafts of scientific papers
  • plans for future research
  • peer reviews, or communications with colleagues
  • physical objects (e.g., laboratory samples)
  • trade secrets
  • commercial information
  • materials needing to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published, or similar information which is protected under law

The Federal Government also defers data sharing compliance for data which include "personnel and medical information and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as information that could be used to identify a particular person in a research study".

3) Will the project include a request or requirement for attribution and/or acknowledgement?

If you require attribution, you could:

  • provide a specific citation in your permission statement
  • provide a link to a URL on your website so that users can find the most current citation
  • ask the user to contact you in person for the appropriate information.

If you request attribution/acknowledgment, you can use the same mechanisms as above but would only make compliance dependent on the user’s good will. It may help to explain why you are making the request: attribution is very important in the academic environment to building the reputation of a research team, but also to understanding the provenance of the results.

In addition, it’s important to consider whether, for certain types of data, attribution requirements could present difficulties and negatively impact use.

4) Will your group want to receive information regarding the use of the project data by users?

If you do require reports of use do you want:

  • to have the user specifically request access in order to receive the data?
  • to have copies of publication sent to you?

Information that demonstrates use is often very important in illustrating uptake and validation of your research.  Broad adoption and utilization can be a featured point in future grant applications and is an opportunity for your research group to grow its network and engage in relationships that might otherwise not occur.

You should seek to balance your control of access with your research group’s ability to promptly and reasonably respond to the research community. In some cases you may only wish to requestthat data users provide you information regarding proposed use and send you a copy of any publication that results from use of the data.

5) Does your group need to be the sole source of the project data for quality control or other research integrity reasons (such as privacy), or would your group like to allow users to redistribute project data under certain conditions?

  • Not allowed
  • Allowed but no sale or commercial use
  • Allowed but limited in scope

In some cases, certain types of data are not appropriate for all audiences. For example, drug interaction data may be complex and require users to have healthcare professional credentials in order to be responsibly utilized. This may require your research team or institution to remain the source of data distribution, and the distribution mechanism may need to be more formal to protect confidentiality or other elements of the data.

The Federal Government understands that in some cases there may be incremental costs associated with making data available, and your research group may charge fees to recover these costs. Technology Transfer Services can help you with data dissemination that charges for incremental expenses.

Examples of Permissions Language:

Unrestricted Donation

You may copy, modify, distribute and perform the work(s) or data, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission provided that you: a) agree that we make no warranties about the work(s) or data, and disclaim liability for all uses of the work(s) or data, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law; and b) when using or citing the work(s) or data, you should not imply endorsement by us.

Request for Attribution/Acknowledgment

We request that you cite our research project and applicable publications if you use our work(s) or data in your publications or presentations.

Request for a copy of publications that used your work(s) or data

We request that if you use the work(s) or data in your publication that you provide us a copy of the publication.

Attribution Permission

You may copy, modify, distribute and perform the work(s) including data, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission provided that you: a) cite our research project and publications as follows <<enter citation information here>> ; b) agree that we make no warranties about the work(s) or data, and disclaim liability for all uses of the work(s) or data, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law; and c) when using or citing the work(s) or data, you should not imply endorsement by us.

Noncommercial Permission

You may copy, modify, distribute and perform the work(s) including data, solely for non-commercial purposes (no sales), all without asking permission provided that you: a) cite our research project and publications as follows <<enter citation information here>> ; b) agree that we make no warranties about the work(s) or data, and disclaim liability for all uses of the work(s) or data, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law; and c) when using or citing the work(s) or data, you should not imply endorsement by us.

No Redistribution Permission

You may copy, modify, and perform the work(s) including data, solely for non-commercial purposes, all without asking permission provided that you: a) cite our research project and publications as follows <<enter citation information here>> ; b) agree that we make no warranties about the work(s) or data, and disclaim liability for all uses of the work(s) or data, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law; and c) when using or citing the work(s) or data, you should not imply endorsement by us. Please contact <<research project contact here>> if you would like to request permission to redistribute the work(s) or data.

Notification Required for Permission

Please contact <<research project contact here>> to request permission to use the work(s) or data. Include your proposed use of the data to assist us in determining your eligibility and to help us navigate possible conflicts between research projects. We will provide you with a short data sharing agreement for you and your authorized institutional official to sign prior to your receiving the data.