Research Data

FAQ – Research Data & Materials Policy

Visit the Research Data & Materials Policy to review the full policy.

What are the reasons for the policy?

The university is committed to high-quality research and academic integrity, which requires that stewardship of research data be handled in a thoughtful manner. Accurate and authenticated data records is critical for supporting and substantiating research findings, in protection of intellectual property, and for resolving disputes or responding to allegations of research misconduct. Additionally, as a federally funded research institution, the university must assert ownership over research data for projects conducted at or under the auspices of the university in order to meet the requirements of research sponsors. This policy gathers information from other policies and university guidance into one place for the convenience of the research community.

What are Research Data and Materials?

Research Data and Materials is defined under the policy as the recorded factual material that is commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings. In other words, research data and materials are the information or materials another researcher would need to reproduce or evaluate your research results. Examples of research data and materials include lab notebooks, photos, data files, computer programs, etc. Research Data and Materials will vary by field and discipline. In some fields, citations or other public data used for analysis of a research question may constitute research data. The definition of Research Data and Materials was adapted from the Uniform Guidance published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which provides a government-wide framework for grants administration and management.

Does this policy apply to research conducted with WashU’s own funds?

Yes. The policy applies to all research conducted at or under the auspices of WashU, regardless of the source of funding for the project.

Who is responsible for the storage of research data?

The Principal Investigator is responsible for developing and overseeing a research data storage plan that meets the requirements of the policy. Investigators may contact Research Infrastructure Services or Data services in University Libraries for help with developing a data storage plan.

Where do research data, including lab notebooks, go when a lab closes down because a PI leaves or retires?

Research data, including lab notebooks and materials, must continue to be maintained by the department if they are within the retention period set forth in the policy.

I received data from a third party under a Data Transfer Agreement that requires that the third party own that data and that it be destroyed before the required retention period. Is this against the policy?

The policy does not apply to data collected from an external party under a Data Transfer Agreement. The terms and conditions of the Data Transfer Agreement must be adhered to, including obligations related to data ownership, confidentiality, and destruction.

Can I take my research data and materials with me when I leave WashU?

In general, original research data and materials remain at WashU when a PI transfers to another institution, though typically the PI may take copies of the research data upon approval of university officials. Original research data and materials may be transferred with prior approval from WashU leadership. Consult the OVCR PI departure process for more information.

Are there WashU resources to help assist with obligations required by the policy?

For questions regarding data management:

For questions regarding data archival and storage:

For questions regarding data protection/security:

For questions regarding data use/sharing agreements:

For questions regarding research integrity issues:

For questions regarding human studies: