Skip to main content
SMU Libraries

Research Data Management: Data Management Policies

Guide on research data management, with resources and tools for data planning, data organization, data documentation, data sharing, data security, data analysis and visualization


Here are some of the best practices and recommendations for developing research data policies in universities. 

Research Data Policies

Why is it Important to have a Research Data Policy?

Policies provide clarity on what is expected by the institution and who is responsible for which activities.  Research data management involves many stakeholders so a coherent vision expressed through a policy can be a useful way to coordinate the broad range of interests to be found in an HEI and to provide a framework of overarching governance.  A policy can also provide leverage to unlock resources for infrastructure development, making implementation more feasible (Jones, Pryor & Whyte, 2013).

Typical Stakeholders in Policy Development

Erway (2013) suggested that the major stakeholders could include the university, office of research, research compliance office, information technology department, researchers, academic units, and library.

Key Elements of a Research Data Policy

A robust research data management policy is required to demonstrate and ensure:
• good research practice and procedures;
• protection of intellectual property rights (IPR);
• proper recording, maintenance, storage and security of research data;
• compliance with relevant legislation and regulators; and
• appropriate access to Research Data is maintained

(University of Southampton, 2014)

The Australian National Data Service has also provided an outline of a research data management policy for Australian universities and institutions. It includes the following list of key elements:

1. Name of Policy
2. Policy Purpose
3. Key Principles or Objectives
4. Definitions
5. Exceptions
6. Application and Responsibilities
7. Period of Retention of Research Data and Records
8. Storage of Research Data and Records
9. Security and Protection
10. Access to Research Data and Records
11. Removal or Movement of Data and Records
12. Destruction of Records
13. Data Ownership
14. Collaborative Research Projects
15. Special Requirements
16. Where to Get Advice
17. Register of Research Data and Records Stored in Department
18. Related Policies
19. Related Documents / Schedules
20. Related Legislation
21. Commencement Date
22. Review Date
23. Policy Manager
24. Policy Contact
25. Approval Authority

In an OCLC Research Report (Erway, 2013), ‘Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy’, it is suggested that the following list of elements be covered in the drafting of a university research data management policy:

1. Who owns the data?
2. What Requirements are Imposed by Others?
3. Which Data Should Be Retained?
4. For How Long Should Data Be Maintained?
5. How Should Digital Data Be Preserved?
6. Are there Ethical Considerations?
7. How are Data Accessed?
8. How Open Should the Data Be?
9. How Will Costs Be Managed?
10. What are the Alternatives to Local Data Management?


It was noted in the DataRes Project that “University data policies tend to be fairly toothless, using statements of ‘recognition’ of the importance of retaining and sharing research data or ‘encouragement’ for researchers to share data rather than solid institutional mandates.” It also added that the “existing institutional policies are weak, and compliance tends to be limited because the only way to compel faculty to adhere to such a policy is to make compliance a mandate for tenure and promotion, a step no institution is willing to take.” (Council on Library and Information Resources, 2013).


Policy Guidelines

Australian National Data Service (2010). Data Management Policy Outline.  CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 Australia

Council on Library and Information Resources (2013). Research data management: principles, practices and prospects.  CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0

Donnelly, Martin (2014). ‘Five Steps to Developing a Research Data Policy’. DCC 'Quickstart' Leaflets. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online:  

Erway, Rocky (2013). Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy. OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.  CC-BY-3.0

European Commission (2013). Horizon 2020: Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data in Horizon 2020. Version 1.0. The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

G8 UK (2013). G8 Science Ministers Statement London UK, 12 June 2013.

Horton, Laurence and Digital Curation Centre (2014). 'Overview of UK Institution RDM Policies', Digital Curation Centre.   

Jones, Sarah (2011). Research data policy briefing. Digital Curation Centre.  CC-BY-2.5 Scotland

Jones, S., Pryor, G. & Whyte, A. (2013). ‘How to Develop Research Data Management Services - a guide for HEIs’. DCC How-to Guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online:

Mullins, James L. (2014). The Policy and Institutional Framework in Research data management: practical strategies for information professionals (edited by Joyce M. Ray). Purdue University Press.

Pinfield, Stephen, Cox, Andrew M., Smith, Jen (2014). Research Data Management and Libraries: Relationships, Activities, Drivers and Influences. PLoS ONE 9(12): e114734. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114734 

RECODE Project (2015). Policy RECommendations for Open access to research Data in Europe.

Research Councils UK (2014). RCUK Common Principles on Data Policy.

University of Minnesota Libraries. Funding Agency Guidelines.

University of Queensland Library. Funding Agency Requirements for Data Management in Research data management: data management plans.


University Research Data Policies:


Monash University (2013). Research Data Management Policy.

University of Melbourne (2013). Management of Research Data and Records Policy (MPF1242).



London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Research Data Management Policy.

University College of London (2013). UCL Research Data Policy.

University of Bath (2014). Research Data Policy.

University of Edinburgh (2011). Research Data Management Policy.

University of Hertfordshire (2011). Data Management Policy.

University of Oxford. Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records.

University of Sheffield. Research Data Management Policy.



Cornell University. Joan and Stanford I. Weill Medical College. Research Data: Recording, Retention and Access Policy.

Northwestern University (2012). Research Data: Ownership, Retention and Access.

University of Tennessee (2009). Research Data Policy.

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy