Three federal documents address the research output of academic institutions; (1) OMB Circular A-110, (2) Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations, the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act (commonly referred to as the Bayh-Dole Act), and (3) the Freedom of Information Act (commonly referred to as FOIA). The OMB Circular A-110 covers all aspects of grants and agreements between academic institutions and federal funding agencies.The OMB defines research data as:
...the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings, but not any of the following: preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews, or communications with colleagues. This "recorded" material excludes physical objects (e.g., laboratory samples). Research data also do not include:
(A) Trade secrets, commercial information, materials necessary to be held confidential by a researcher until they are published, or similar information which is protected under law; and
(B) Personnel and medical information and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as information that could be used to identify a particular person in a research study.
The OMB Circular A-110 refers to the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, which is legislation dealing with intellectual property arising from federal government-funded research. This Act provides universities control of the intellectual property resulting from the federally funded research performed on campus.
The FOIA (5 U.S.C. § 552) provides the public with the right of access to government records. FOIA was included in Circular A-110 Section 35.c :
…. in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for research data relating to published research findings produced under an award that were used by the Federal Government in developing an agency action that has the force and effect of law, the Federal awarding agency shall request, and the recipient shall provide, within a reasonable time, the research data so that they can be made available to the public through the procedures established under the FOIA.
Federal departments and agencies have been establishing best practices, data management plan requirements, etc. for their employees and for the funded research they sponsor. The Californian Digital Library has compared the policies of some of the funding agencies. The U.S. EPA has published 2010 Survey of EPA and Other Federal Agency Scientific Data Management Policies and Guidelines which lead to the development of their policies. The NSF was the most recent agency to mandate the inclusion of a data management plan as part of the grant application process.
For University of Utah guidelines on research data see:
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Online Tutorial -Data Management
From our friends across the pond-
The Research Data Management Training, or MANTRA project has produced an open, online training course to help disseminate good practice in research data management at the University of Edinburgh and beyond.
What is it?
It is a non-credit, free online course which provides guidelines for good practice in research data management. It consists of interactive online units focused on key concepts of data management. They include video clips featuring senior academics talking about data management challenges. In addition there are practical exercises in handling data within four software analysis environments (SPSS, NVivo, R and ArcGIS), which learners can download and work through at their own pace.
Who is it for?
It is for PhD students, early career researchers, and all others who are planning a research project based on digital data. The course is an Open Educational Resource that may be freely used by anyone. It is available through an open license for rejigging, rebranding, and repurposing.
Who produced it?
The Data Library team at EDINA produced the materials as part of the JISC Managing Research Data programme. They worked with the School of Social and Political Studies, the School of GeoSciences and the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology to target the resources towards their doctoral training programmes. The Data Library at the University of Edinburgh has been providing research data services to staff and students for over twenty-five years. The data handling software practicals were written by expert data analysts in each software domain. The online module was created using Xerte Online Toolkits, an open source authoring tool.