Ethical and legal considerations

Privacy and confidentiality:  If the project will be dealing with data of a confidential nature, the DMP should include information about how the project will protect the rights and privacy of individuals who participate in research.  Data intended for broader use should be free of identifiers that would permit linkages to individual research participants and variables that could lead to deductive disclosure of the identity of individual subjects.

Intellectual property:  Issues of data ownership can arise when co-funding is provided by the private sector (e.g., the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries) with corresponding constraints on public disclosure.  Many funders recognize the need to protect patentable and other proprietary data.  Restrictions on data sharing due to co-funding arrangements should be discussed in the data-sharing/management plan section of an application.  The organization recognizes an institution’s desire to exercise its intellectual property rights may justify a need to delay disclosure of research findings, a delay of 30 to 60 days is generally viewed as a reasonable period for such activity.

How will you manage any ethical issues?

Questions to consider:

  • Have you gained consent for data preservation and sharing?
  • How will you protect the identity of participants if required? e.g. via anonymisation
  • How will sensitive data be handled to ensure it is stored and transferred securely?

Guidance:  Ethical issues affect how you store data, who can see/use it and how long it is kept. Managing ethical concerns may include:  anonymisation of data; referral to departmental or institutional ethics committees; and formal consent agreements. You should show that you are aware of any issues and have planned accordingly.  If you are carrying out research involving human participants, you must also ensure that consent is requested to allow data to be shared and reused.

How will you manage copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues?

Questions to consider:

  • Who owns the data?
  • How will the data be licensed for reuse?
  • Are there any restrictions on the reuse of third-party data?
  • Will data sharing be postponed / restricted e.g. to publish or seek patents?

Guidance:  State who will own the copyright and IPR of any data that you will collect or create, along with the licence(s) for its use and reuse.  For multi-partner projects, IPR ownership may be worth covering in a consortium agreement.  Consider any relevant funder, institutional, departmental or group policies on copyright or IPR.  Also consider permissions to reuse third-party data and any restrictions needed on data sharing.

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