However, that is changing with data because in order to produce data, you often need institutional infrastructure. Sometimes it is infrastructure related to a disciple, but a lot of times it is institutional. This is where we get into discipline-related variations. In fields like geophysics and genomics, for example, the infrastructure is not usually provided by the institution, but in the social sciences, it is frequently provided. In the neuroscience field, it is often the institution that funds the various imaging machines and pays for all the storage and infrastructure to maintain the resulting data.
We thus have gone from a system where the institution was not involved in the publishing process to one where the researchers cannot really do what they need to do without support from their institution. Furthermore, institutions have other responsibilities when research is concerned. For example, they have some responsibilities when it comes to funding. The institution is the grantee and is legally responsible for enforcement of the terms of the contract. Also there is additional infrastructure that we all rely on now to do our work, such as digital networks and computing, the library, the licensing office, and the like. The university is responsible for making sure that the infrastructure is well-maintained and functioning. Lastly, institutions are responsible for the long-term storage of scholarly records so they are preserved and will be available and accessible to all interested stakeholders.
Now I need to focus on the intellectual property (IP) part. I would say that to the extent that IP exists in data, or that it has commercial potential, oversight for citation or attribution requirements is unclear (see the presentation by Sarah Pearson). Researchers assume that they control the data and have the intellectual property rights and that they can decide what terms to impose on their data. Often, however, researchers do not, in fact, have these rights. Although funders do not assert intellectual property rights, they frequently do have policies about what should happen to those rights when they give a grant. For example, this is a quote from the NSF Administration Guide: “Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing.”2
Also, university copyright policies are evolving. This is another quote from an unnamed university’s faculty policy. “In the case of scholarly and academic works produced by academic and research faculty, the University cedes copyright ownership to the author(s), except where significant University resources (including sponsor-provided resources) were used in creation of the work” [italics added].
This quote is typical. You can find a similar formulation in just about every institution’s faculty policy document. This is what historically has been applied to things such as software platforms developed with university infrastructure. The same thing is being applied to data now. Note that the word “significant” in the statement is not defined.
Patent policy is similar. Here is another quote from an unnamed university: “Any person who may be engaged in University research shall be required to execute a patent agreement with the
2 NSF Award and Administration Guide, January 2011.