Skip to main content

Safeguarding data

Share and reuse data safely

Research data forms an important part of the scholarly record. The University – alongside many funders and journal publishers – requires that research data be made available for sharing wherever possible.

However, it's widely accepted that the requirement to share data does not equate to "open" access to data in every case. Some data may not be shared openly as it may be confidential, sensitive, or subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

Before sharing or reusing data you should consider:

  • Do you have appropriate consent to share data? Consent should be sought from all participants at the earliest opportunity, including plans for data deposit and sharing.  Make sure to cover all the ways you plan to handle data including sharing in an anonymised form in a repository.
  • For data you plan to store and share on a restricted basis e.g. for research purposes only, our suggested consent wording would be “I agree for the data contributed by me to be stored and used in relevant future research in an anonymised/pseudonymised form”
  • For data you plan to be stored and shared more openly, our suggested consent wording would be “I understand that any research data contributed by me, will not be linked to me and may be shared publicly for future use”
  • Do you have all necessary agreement with third party project partners?
  • Is data appropriately anonymised?
  • Should access to data be restricted or only made available under certain conditions eg if you have signed a non-disclosure agreement?
  • Do you intend to make a patent application? If so, you must avoid prior disclosure.
  • Are you currently publishing papers based on the data? Be aware of your publisher and funder expectations. You may need to make data available – not necessarily openly – where it underpins a publication.
  • Is it worth sharing all your data or just processed and analysed data? This will vary by subject area and weighing up the costs and benefits of sharing different types and stages of data is largely an academic judgement eg "it may be more effective to preserve the means to recreate the data by preserving the generating code and environment, rather than preserving the data themselves" (EPSRC).

Information about any sensitive data and safeguards should be included in the data management plan.