The University of Michigan has created a new policy setting expectations and guidance for research data stewardship, focusing on issues of ownership, sharing and retention.
The new Standard Practice Guide 303.06 will take effect Jan. 1, 2024, and is designed to ensure researchers across the university are better positioned to maximize the impact of their research data equitably and securely.
Research data is defined as the recorded material commonly accepted in research communities as necessary or useful to validate, reconstruct, evaluate, replicate or generate findings.
This new policy comes as there is increasing recognition across all disciplines of the benefits of research data stewardship, and a rapid growth in the resources available to assist researchers.
At the same time, many federal agencies, scholarly journals and other organizations are increasing expectations around the management of research data, requiring robust plans to make data publicly available or adhere to new security guidelines.
The SPG outlines how storage and access to data generated by U-M researchers should be administered.
For example, the policy states that research data must be stored and curated for a minimum of seven years after publication or final closeout of a project. This retention time applies to all research data, regardless of the source of funding, and brings U-M in line with peer institutions, funding agencies and national best practices.
The policy also outlines expectations for U-M researchers to make research data publicly available when possible, taking into account any existing agreements, contracts, sensitivities or protections.
The SPG was developed as part of the Research Data Stewardship Initiative, following extensive input from a wide range of faculty and staff groups and subject-matter experts. The Office of the Vice President for Research launched the initiative last year, in collaboration with the U-M Library, Information and Technology Services and other units, to help teams navigate data needs throughout the research data lifecycle. It is advised by a faculty advisory committee.
“We received a tremendous amount of excellent feedback from a range of voices across the research community to develop and refine this policy,” said Nick Wigginton, associate vice president for research – strategic initiatives who is leading the initiative.
“This new policy is intended to make it clear what the expectations are for researchers around the management of research data. To accompany the policy the initiative’s working group has put together excellent resources to help researchers navigate the changing landscape of research data.”
An accompanying guidance document summarizes the implications and implementation of the policy in more detail, such as articulating the rights and responsibilities of researchers and the university, how to manage data when a researcher leaves the university, and more specific information about data sharing, archiving and reuse.
Information and resources about the policy are available on the Research Data Stewardship Initiative website, including FAQs, best practices and a contact form for questions. Additional guidance and resources will be available throughout the summer and fall.