Policies for Storage of Student Research Data

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The University of North Carolina is the legal owner of all student and post-doctoral fellow research data obtained to meet degree requirements or as part of a grant to the University. University Policy requires that faculty maintain custodianship of student research data and that students be able to have copies of their data. This allows the University to respond to possible future inquiries from sponsors or other regulatory bodies with regard to the data as the University may have continuing obligations under the terms of a sponsored agreement.

  1. This policy applies to all School of Nursing students and post-doctoral fellows who obtain data through grants to the university or using data from faculty grants. In addition, faculty and students must adhere to data-sharing requirements from the sponsor/funding agency.
  2. Faculty are expected to maintain custodianship of the raw data (e.g., questionnaires, videotape scoring, transcripts of audiotapes, field notes, etc.) and any final analysis runs for the specified retention period identified by the funding agency.  For NIH-funded grants, the retention period is three years from the date the final financial report is submitted.  Files originally in electronic form, such as analysis runs or audiotape transcripts, may be kept in either electronic format or as hard copies. Data originally in hard copies (e.g., questionnaires, field notes) must be maintained in the original hard copy format. If the IRB application states that tape recordings will be erased or destroyed once transcribed/coded, they should not be retained.  Otherwise, they are subject to the same secure protection and retention requirements as are any other research data. Data obtained through funding through sources other than NIH should be retained in accordance with the requirements of the funding agency. Data obtained through non-funded research should be retained for 3 years after the study is closed with the IRB.
  3. Custodianship means the faculty member has possession of the data and can produce it for auditors or others who might have questions about it. Custodianship does not automatically grant publication rights. Publication rights are determined by standard scientific principles. The researcher must recognize that the institution has the right of access to the data collected and generated under sponsored projects.
  4. To guarantee that faculty are given these data, the final copies of dissertations or research projects are not to be signed until the faculty member is in possession of the data.
  5. Students have the right to make copies of these data at their own expense and take these copies with them when they leave the University. They also have the right to access the data at the University. They have the right to publish the data consistent with standard scientific principles and any agreements they made with the faculty or collaborators at the time that the data was collected.
  6. Student data may be stored in locked storage in faculty offices, faculty research rooms, or RSC-approved archives.
  7. Should a researcher leave the institution, the institution and researcher should come to agreement over whether the researcher may take the original data or an identical copy of the data. If the researcher takes the original data, a copy must be left at the institution. In addition, the researcher must agree to retain the original data for the required retention period and to provide access to the original data to the institution as well as other individuals or entities having a legitimate need for access. The latter would primarily be related to lawsuits, intellectual property disputes, and cases of research misconduct in which access to the original data is not just preferred, but required.

Approved by Academic Affairs Council, 9/27/2016; to be reviewed 8/2019. Located at: http://nursing.unc.edu/current-students/student-handbook/policies-for-storage-of-student-research-data/