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Research Data Management Toolkit: The Legal and Ethical Framework

This guide provides information about research data management and the Tropical Data Hub (TDH) Research Data repository

Introduction: The Legal and Ethical Framework

Data management must comply with the Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and relevant privacy protocols and ethics obligations.

The level of detail in which data can be shared may be limited factors such as ethics (particularly consent), legal and intellectual property restrictions.

This section of the Toolkit explores the relevant legislation and guidelines.

Human Ethics

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Before collecting or using the personal information of others in research (e.g. health or social science research) the researcher must have obtained approval from the JCU Human Ethics Research Ethics Committee through the Research Services Office.

Intellectual Property and Confidentiality

All enquiries about confidentiality in the context of protection and commercialisation of intellectual property should be directed to JCU's Manager Innovation and Commercialisation, Seth Jones on (07) 4232 1783.

Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

The Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research guides Australian institutions and researchers in responsible research practices and promotes research integrity. Compliance is a prerequisite for receipt of National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council funding.

The JCU Code is adapted from the National Code (2007). Section 2. Management of Research Data and Primary Materials addresses ownership of data and materials, access to data, retention and storage of data and materials, and confidentiality obligations:

The Code outlines researcher responsibilities e.g. they must:

  • ensure that research data and primary materials are kept in safe and secure storage provided, even when not in current use;
  • provide the same level of care and protection to primary research records, such as laboratory notebooks, as to the analysed research data;
  • retain research data, including electronic data, in a durable, indexed and retrievable form;
  • maintain a catalogue of research data in an accessible form;

The Tropical Data Hub (TDH) Research Data repository is designed to help JCU researchers meet their responsibilities for retaining, describing ("cataloguing") and providing access to completed digital data.

The Code also clarifies responsibilites as they relate to students (Section 2.2.1)

  • A student’s principal supervisor and Academic Head have overall responsibility for the retention and storage of the student’s research data and materials. 
  • The College retains its responsibility for the management of a student’s data and primary materials after the student’s departure.
  • Unless a student has executed a relevant intellectual property assignment to the University, s/he will own copyright in their data.

Privacy

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Research involving the use of personal information (information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable) must comply with applicable privacy legislation.

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