CSU Policy: Research Data

Policy Title: Research Data Category: Research
Owner: Vice President for Research Policy ID#: 7-2001-013
Vice President for Research
Web: https://www.research.colostate.edu/
Email: vpr_research_information@Mail.Colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-7194
Original Effective Date: 5/17/2016
Last Revision: 5/17/2016
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Data are a valuable asset to the University and the University is the ultimate steward of Data as defined herein. This policy protects the faculty’s and University's use and access rights by addressing definition, responsibility, control, and distribution of Data produced during academic and research activities supported by the University, supported by external sponsors, or produced with University facilities, resources, or other personnel. This policy is applicable to Data developed by University faculty or staff (including student employees) in the course of their employment by the University. This policy assures that Data are adequately recorded, archived, retained, and accessible for sufficient time to support the associated research that produced the data and any intellectual property developed by/resulting from that research. This policy supports the broad dissemination of Data, consistent with University policy and legal requirements regarding privacy, confidentiality and the like.


This policy applies to all CSU departments and units, and all University employees (including faculty, state classified employees, administrative professionals and student employees) and others participating in research activities at the University.


Research is a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.

Research Data means the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings arising from or associated with research conducted at, under the auspices of, or using the resources of the University. “Data” covered in this policy includes not just Research Data but more broadly both intangibles (e.g., information and copyrighted works such as software and expressions of creativity, artistry or information) and tangibles (e.g., cell lines, biological samples collected for research purposes, synthetic compounds, organisms, and originals or copies of laboratory notebooks) arising out of the academic and research units of the University. Data collected by the University to facilitate and enable its business/academic functions are covered by the CSU IT Security Policy (http://policylibrary.colostate.edu/policy.aspx?id=492).


The University is ultimately responsible for the accuracy and sufficiency of records, the cornerstone of rigorous research and scholarly or creative activity. Therefore, the University is responsible for Data developed by University personnel in performing the duties of their employment by the University or through substantial use of facilities or funds provided by the University. Such responsibility applies to research funded by external sources and managed by the University, unless the University agrees to another arrangement in a grant, contract, or other agreement. Increasing use of technology for recording, storing and sharing data means that new norms are being developed for management of Data. The University must continue to explore and expand opportunities and resources for Data management and retention.

The University’s responsibility for the scientific record for work/research conducted at the University, under University auspices, or with University resources is based upon (a) United States Office of Management and Budget Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), 2 CFR §200.333-337, (b) the University’s need to assess and defend charges of intellectual dishonesty, (c) the University’s need to support and commercialize the management of intellectual property, and (d) the University's mission to develop and disseminate new knowledge.


The University supports the principle of openness in research, creativity and scholarly inquiry. Open dissemination of data, processes, and results of research and other sponsored and scholarly activity is crucial to a vibrant and healthy academic environment. The University promotes the prompt and open exchange of Data with colleagues outside the investigator's immediate laboratory or department, subject to relevant grants, contracts, other agreements, or applicable law.

In the case of externally sponsored research involving a grant, contract, or other agreement, the institution receiving the funding will generally own and be primarily responsible for the data. The Principal Investigator (PI) will be responsible for controlling storage, use, and distribution of Research Data arising from the research activity, subject to provisions of the applicable grant, contract, or other agreement, and University policy, or applicable law. If multiple PIs are involved in the creation of Research Data, they should agree up-front on what responsibility each will have with respect to Research Data. Where the research is performed without a grant, contract, or other agreement, such as institutionally sponsored research, the individual primarily responsible for the conduct of the research will be responsible for the storage, use and distribution of the Research Data arising from the activity.  

Responsibility for Research Data

Responsibility for Research Data means:

  1. Collection of Research Data, including production of defensible laboratory notebooks – Attributable; Legible; Contemporaneous/Complete; Original; Accurate;
  2. Management of Research Data ensuring efficient and effective retrieval by the PI, other personnel within the research group, or appropriate administrative personnel or research sponsors;
  3. Development of a formal research data management plan and procedures where appropriate;
  4. Making reasoned decisions with respect to the need to retain raw and working data or records which are incorporated into the “final research data”;
  5. Educating/advising individuals using or having access to the data of the requirements of data management plans and procedures;
  6. Consideration of the need for a system for preserving Research Data in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency;
  7. Retention of Research Data for the requisite period of time (see below);
  8. Documented communication of the management system and description of the data managed to members of the relevant research group; and
  9. When significant elements of data archival are provided for externally, for example in a federal or federally-funded archive, appropriate references to those data resources must be provided in the publications, theses, and other results of the research.

Retention of Research Data arising from Sponsored Projects

The supervising faculty member, PI or laboratory/department head must preserve Research Data for a minimum of three (3) years after the final project close-out/completion, with original Data retained and/or made available, where feasible. The following circumstances may require longer retention and may involve other offices or entities specific to the purpose for such retention:

  1. Where Research Data supports a patent, such Research Data must be retained and/or made available as long as the patent and any derivative patents are pending or valid;
  2. If allegations of scientific misconduct, conflict of interest, or other charges arise, data must be retained and/or made available until such charges are fully resolved;
  3. If a student is involved, Research Data must be retained and/or made available at least until the degree is awarded or the student has unambiguously abandoned the work; and
  4. Research Data must be retained and/or made available if required by the terms of a grant, contract, or other agreement, or applicable law.

 Beyond these periods, destruction of the research record is at the discretion of the PI or the researcher. Research Data may be retained in the administrative unit where generated or elsewhere as appropriate, but must in all cases remain accessible by the University during these retention periods.

Data Transfer When a PI Leaves the University or a Grant is Transferred

When employees involved in research projects who are not PI’s at the University leave the University, they may take copies of Research Data for projects on which they have worked. The supervising faculty member or PI must, however, retain the original Research Data at the University or ensure the data are available if archived elsewhere, unless specific permission to do otherwise is granted by the AVPR. If a PI involved in a research project leaves the University, they may take copies of Research Data for projects on which they have worked. The original Research Data must be retained by and/or made available to the University.

If a faculty member or PI leaves the University, and a research project is to be moved to another institution, custody of the Data may be transferred with the approval of the AVPR and OGC, and, with written agreement from PI’s new institution that guarantees: a) its acceptance of custodial responsibilities for the Data, and b) that Colorado State University be given access to the Data should that become necessary.

Any other requests for Data transfers will be considered on a case by case basis by the AVPR and OGC.

Note that the University will retain its ownership rights in Data developed at the University absent a written agreement to the contrary.

Research Data Associated with Theses and Dissertations

The research landscape has evolved to encompass expectations to share and reuse data to accelerate the pace of research and discovery. Current practice is to regard the corpus of research information as the combination of the scholarly publication and any and all associated data sets. Such data sets are data sets associated with and referenced in a formal publication, a thesis, or a dissertation. This policy does not apply to “working data sets” or “raw data sets” that are not yet finalized, for example data sets that are input and output files for computation or experimentation before they become stable and are then used to produce the final results in the thesis, dissertation, or publication.[1] To preserve the complete scholarly record of the author, data sets must be incorporated. Therefore, a student depositing their thesis or dissertation is required to make discoverable, accessible and available their associated data sets in accordance with this policy and provisions of the University’s Digital Repository. Access and rights management (embargo period, access limited to specific IP addresses) shall be the same for the associated data sets as it is for the thesis or the dissertation.

 [1] Where working data sets or raw data sets support a patent application/filing, they may need to be preserved. This should be identified by the Colorado State Research Foundation during the disclosure and patenting process.


Compliance with this policy is required. Compliance assistance may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Research.


Approved by Anthony A. Frank, President, May 17, 2016



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