Leeds University Library

Safe sharing and re-use of data

To share or not to share

There is an expectation from several funders and journal publishers that data should be available for consultation where possible; it forms an important part of the scholarly record. However, this does not equate to 'open' access to data in every case.


  1. Do you have appropriate consent to share data and/or necessary agreement with third party project partners?
  2. Is data appropriately anonymised?
  3. Should access to data be restricted; should it only be available if certain conditions are met? For example, signing a non-disclosure agreement.
  4. Do you intend to make a patent application? If so, you must avoid prior disclosure.
  5. 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.
  6. Is it worth sharing all your data or just processed and analysed data? This will vary hugely by subject area and weighing up the costs and benefits of sharing different types and stages of data is largely an academic judgement. e.g. "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)

University of Leeds Suite of Data Safeguards

The following policies/documentation are key to the safe processing and preparation of your research data. For the purposes of ensuring appropriate safeguards are applied to your data, you should be familiar with following policies and how they impact your research. 

If you need help with this, please contact the Research Data Leeds service researchdataenquiries@leeds.ac.uk

Your key data safeguarding actions


  1. For record-keeping purposes, re-use your funder / Leeds data management plan (DMP) / create a research project Data Management Plan / or similar to capture all data related safeguards, their issues and decisions.
  2. Assess and process your research data in accordance with each safeguard given in the UoL Suite of Data Safeguards above.
  3. Assess and process your research data in accordance with any local protocols that may apply.


In line with the given suite of data safeguards above and your local protocols, have you identified a DMP template for recording key research data related issues, actions and decisions arising from data assessments made and processing activity undertaken?  

For example:

  • Have you completed the following data safeguarding actions?
  • If not, is the reason(s) recorded in your data management plan or other similar project documentation?

  1. Added the wording "Consent is given for restricted access and use of the anonymised research data" or words to this effect) to all consent forms / contractual documentation?
  2. Identified and recorded any confidential and/or highly confidential data suitable for sharing under controlled conditions? See also...
  3. Identified and recorded any confidential and/or highly confidential research data unsuitable for sharing under controlled conditions?
  4. Written a justification for the research data unsuitable for sharing under controlled conditions?
  5. Secured Funder / UoL / School sign-off on the documented justification to exempt your data from sharing?
  6. Agreed and documented research data ownership and dissemination actions?
  7. Agreed with partners what data will be shareable?  What data will be subject to access control conditions?  What these access controls conditions should be?  Who they should be applied to? A sustainable mechanism for discovering and accessing the data?
  8. Contacted RIS Legal Services team to formalise partner arrangements into a data sharing agreement?
  9. Stated collaborative research partner(s) and a data sharing agreement exists in any ethical review applications?
  10. Checked if other potentially 'linkable' datasets exist eg in Libraries, Church records, General Registry Office, Genealogy websites, Social media; internet searches, Local and national press archives, data releases by other organisations particularly public authorities, NHS, DoH, ONS, Local council offices?
  11. Set a provisional future date to undertake your data appraisal to decide what data should be kept and for how long?
  12. Documented any potential risks, vulnerabilities eg re-identification potential in your dmp & get xxx to sign off on your data?
  13. Checked your confidential/highly confidential data preparations are in accordance with UoL Suite of data safeguards and/or other like for like local policies?
  14. Named a contactable data custodian to advise on your data when you are not available, no longer at Leeds eg  for Data Recovery procedure/privacy reasons?
  15. Contacted the RDL team to indicate an intention to deposit in the UoL Research Data Leeds archive.