proprietary data.” The data management plan becomes part of the proposal, and “NIH expects that plan to be enacted.… In the case of noncompliance (depending on its severity and duration) NIH can take various actions to protect the Federal Government’s interests.”70 These actions are not specified but may affect the review of future proposals.

As discussed above, research institutions, research sponsors, and journals have considerable leverage in encouraging data access and sharing on the part of researchers. Several leading research institutions have announced open access publication recommendations, which encourage faculty to deposit their publications in their institutional repository. Such recommendations could be extended to data. Some federal research programs and journals have adopted open access data policies that require or encourage researchers to deposit underlying data in a disciplinary or institutional repository (see Tables 2-1 and 2-2). Depending on the program or discipline, adopting and effectively enforcing such open access data policies may be an appropriate way for research institutions, research sponsors, and journals to implement this recommendation.

The Council on Government Relations points out that “few institutions have formal policies and procedures for access to and retention of research data.”71 As described above, the terms of research contracts and grants and other regulations often specify that research institutions are responsible for retaining data and providing access. Given the current lack of formal policies and procedures, we make the following recommendation.

Recommendation 8: Research institutions should establish clear policies regarding the management of and access to research data and ensure that these policies are communicated to researchers. Institutional policies should cover the mutual responsibilities of researchers and the institution in cases in which access to data is requested or demanded by outside organizations or individuals.

The knowledge needed to develop data access policies is not widespread or fully developed. Research institutions and sponsors may need to come together to identify best practices and policy models. Organizations such as the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Council on Government Relations can contribute to this process.

Disputes between researchers and their institutions regarding control of data are not unusual. For example, faculty members may be denied tenure and seek to take their research data with them, while the institution may seek


National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research. 2003. NIH Data Sharing Policy and Implementation Guidance.


Council on Government Relations. 2006. Access to and Retention of Research Data: Rights and Responsibilities. March. Washington, DC: Council on Government Relations.

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