UK Office of Research Integrity


Data Retention & Ownership Policy

Research data are created at the University of Kentucky by faculty, staff, students, post-doctoral fellows, scholars, and visiting scientists in the course of their scholarly activities and in conducting sponsored activities funded by external agencies. The University of Kentucky owns data resulting from scholarly activities, sponsored activities, or works produced in certain University units whose specific mission includes the production of works for instructional, public service or administrative use. The University may choose not to claim ownership rights if there is a specific condition to the contrary in the sponsored project's grant, contract, or cooperative agreement or if the activity is considered to be the unrestricted property of the author as defined in the University of Kentucky Administrative Regulations 7:6 (previously AR II-1.1-3) IV.A [PDF], which defines traditional products of scholarly activity.

For the purpose of this policy, "data" is defined as recorded information regardless of form or the media on which it may be recorded. The term includes technical data, computer software, laboratory worksheets, memoranda, notes or exact copies thereof that are the result of original observation and activities of a study and are necessary for reconstruction and evaluation of the report of the study. In clinical investigations, this term also includes case history records and study protocol. In addition to "data," the policy also applies to unique research resources such as synthetic compounds, organisms, cell lines, viruses, cell products, cloned DNA as well as DNA sequences, mapping information, crystallographic coordinates, plants, animals and spectroscopic data.

The investigator, usually designated Principal Investigator, who bears primary responsibility for the overall conduct of the research, sponsored, or scholarly activity, is responsible for retaining or ensuring retention of the data and providing access to it. In the case of sponsored research, the individual designated in the award as the principal investigator is the primary individual responsible for fulfilling the retention and access requirements. Research data generated while individuals are pursuing research, scholarly, or sponsored activities as faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, scholars, students or visiting scientists must be retained by the principal investigator for a period of five years after publication or submission of the final report on the project for which the data were collected, whichever is longer. If the retention requirements specified in other statutes or external agency's regulations are longer, the agency requirements will apply.

During the retention period, data must be immediately provided to University administration, upon request. Data must be available to representatives of external sponsors or designated governmental officials, as appropriate. Senior members of research teams or sponsored programs have an obligation to discuss the responsibilities of data management, retention, and authorship with other members of the team or project and have a plan which guarantees the retention of the data.

If the principal investigator is transferring to a new institution, the original data may be transferred to the new institution unless University administration objects to the transfer. Also, the investigator may be asked by University administration to leave copies of original data with the institution. In addition, other investigators associated with the project may make copies of data, unless restricted by the terms of the applicable contract or other contractual agreement, including material transfer agreements. Investigators should note that many contractual agreements require the sponsor's consent before data are transferred or removed. Before transferring the original data, the principal investigator should ensure that any special conditions stated in the grant, contract, or cooperative agreement are met.

Departing investigators that transfer original data are obligated to hold original data in trust for the University of Kentucky for the five year retention period or in accord with the applicable funding/regulatory agency requirements, whichever is longer. These data must be returned to the University, if requested. In addition, during the required retention period, such data must be available to representatives of external sponsors or designated governmental officials, as appropriate.

Any disputes regarding requests for original data, copies of data, or transfer of data will be resolved by the Vice President for Research or his/her designee.

Please note, before any tangible research product is removed from a University research facility, the proposed recipient must execute a material transfer agreement (MTA). Click here for information about University Material Transfers and Confidential Disclosures available through the Office of Technology Commercialization web site.

j/data/rso/data retention/data retention.doc
revised: 6/15/17, 2/15/11, 12/12/06, 7/8/99

Other Resources:

  • Data Retention When Subjects Withdraw from FDA-Regulated Clinical Trials [PDF]
  • Regulatory References on Format of Investigator Research Record/Document Retention [PDF]

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