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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.
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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.
James Cook University: Human Ethics (Research Services)
The James Cook University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reviews all research and teaching applications in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007. Webpages include information about submitting applications, forms and FAQs.
National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) - Updated 2018
The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) (National Statement) consists of a series of Guidelines made in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992.
Section 3.1 The Elements of Research, Element 4: Collection, Use and Management of Data and Information includes guidelines relevant to the identifiability of information, data management planning, secondary use of data and data sharing.
The new National Statement takes full effect on 1 January 2019.
Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities (NHMRC)
Provides a set of principles to ensure research is safe, respectful, responsible, high quality and of benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Released August 2018 and replaces: Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research.
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.
Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) - The National Code
The new Code (to be implemented by July 2019) is a principles-based document and no longer addresses research data management in detail. It does state that researchers must: "Retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials. Where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference to these by interested parties." Supplementary guidance on research data management will be released in late 2018.
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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.
Information Privacy Act 2009 (Queensland)
At JCU "It is the responsibility of the researcher and the relevant Division/College to ensure compliance with the information privacy principles in the IP [Information Privacy] Act. The personal information should be securely held and access to it should be limited to members of the research team, the funding body, if appropriate, and staff providing assistance to or supervising the research team. Researchers should seek the informed written consent of individuals who will provide personal information for research purposes and keep a record of that consent." --
JCU Right to Information and Privacy webpage retrieved from: https://www.jcu.edu.au/right-to-information-and-privacy
Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth)
The Privacy Act does not directly apply its own force to universities and research institutions created under state legislation - they are governed by State privacy laws. Universities are however contractually bound to follow the National Privacy Principles (NPPs) contained in the Act under funding agreements from Commonwealth agencies including the NHMRC and ARC.
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