Facilitating efficient and quality research, ensuring data integrity, and fostering a culture of data sharing

Faculty and staff engaged in this initiative are working to develop a cohesive framework of policies, procedures, and processes to support sound management of data at the institution. Duke’s policy on research data was last revised in 2007, and this initiative seeks to update the policy and associated processes and resources, to reflect the current data landscape, with an increased emphasis on sharing and access.

Specifically, we are working to:

  • Review existing resources, practices, and policies around security, management, retention, and analysis from across the institution
  • Highlight opportunities for Duke to increase its ability to efficiently and effectively manage existing risk
  • Evaluate, and present recommendations for meeting, funder, and publishers requirements for research data

Given the increasing importance of supporting the research community in establishing and practicing sound data management, Duke will continue to focus policy and resource efforts in this area.

Data is an integral part of the research enterprise — from unfunded inquiries to federally-sponsored programs — and navigating applicable security, storage, and analysis requirements or recommendations can be a challenge. The RDI aims to equip the research community so they can appropriately care for data, and avoid problems such as lost or stolen data, retracted articles and studies, and reputational harm.

Initiative FAQs

Since April 2020, the Research Data Initiative has engaged faculty, staff, and leadership from across Duke University and the health systems. There is an impressive array of staff, faculty, and administrative leaders that have valuable experience and expertise in areas relating to research data; we have sought to leverage that expertise to understand the current data management practices.  

A faculty committee, convened by the Office for Research & Innovation (OR&I), provides high-level guidance on the evolution of the Initiative and its outputs. 

Workgroups, facilitated by staff subject matter experts and featuring faculty and staff, have met throughout the fall to discuss Data Ownership & Access, Retention & Transfer, and Data Management & Analysis. These workgroups have been dynamic and informative, helping to shape the principles and pillars of policy with the experiences of on-the-ground researchers and support staff. 

Furthermore, Office for Research & Innovation Leadership has presented the concept of the Research Data Initiative to research and administrative leaders around the institution. We also know the importance of engaging with the research community itself. On April 29th and November 18th 2021 we held Research Town Halls to report on updates and developments for the RDI. In Fall 2021, we issued a community-wide Request for Input on proposed Research Data policies, which was answered by faculty, staff and trainees from across the institution. In addition we also have engaged with small meetings with individuals and groups from across the University to make sure their questions and concerns are heard and answered.

[last updated 10/25/2021]

In September 2021, we issued a community-wide Request for Input on proposed Research Data policies, which was answered by hundreds of faculty and staff from across the Institution. We received valuable and constructive feedback that we are integrating into updated drafts to ensure the policy mirrors the current data landscape, is reflective of the breadth of research conducted at Duke, and supports quality data management and sharing practices across the institution. Over the coming months, we will respond to the input in a variety of ways, including Q&A, group discussions and updated proposed policies.

We will continue to engage members of the community to better understand the resources and procedures currently in place to support researchers in today’s world of data management and how we can leverage existing processes to accentuate, rather than duplicate, ongoing efforts.

We remain focused on preparing the community to meet an implementation date of January 2023.

As some may know, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have released updated guidance for Data Management Plans and Sharing. These guidelines have delayed implementation dates, but they are ambitious expectations that as an institution, Duke is preparing to meet. Our current policies regarding research data were last revised and approved in 2007 – the world has changed since that time. We hope our policies will reflect today’s, and tomorrow’s, research landscape and be responsive to the needs of our research community.

If you have comments or questions, we’d love to hear from you. Submit a comment using our comment form, and Research Data Initiative leadership will follow up as appropriate.   

Watch for updates from the Office for Research & Innovation (OR&I) for opportunities to learn more about the Research Data Initiative, such as Town Halls. 

Draft Policy Input

In September 2021, the Duke Office for Research and Innovation issued a community-wide Request for Input (RFI) on proposed Research Data policies. Hundreds of faculty and staff from across the Institution answered the call and provided valuable and constructive feedback. We have been working to integrate this input into updated drafts of the policy to make sure it mirrors the current data landscape, is reflective of the breadth of research conducted at Duke, and supports quality data management and sharing practices across the institution.

In the interest of transparency, we are posting the response to the RFI for the Duke research community to see. Please use the links below to access PDFs of the feedback.

Survey Responses

Letter Responses

Even though the RFI period has concluded, if you or your organizational unit are still interested in engaging the team for feedback, please email researchdata@duke.edu or use the “Contact the Team” link below.

Research Town Halls

Please use the following links to view the slides and recordings from RDI Research Town Halls  

04/29/2021 RDI Research Town Hall Recording  

11/18/2021 RDI Research Town Hall Slides  

11/18/2021 RDI Research Town Hall Recording

Key Resources

Duke has many resources already available to help the research community plan for, manage, and share their data.  These resources and references are collated in the interactive research roadmap, myRESEARCHpath. The tool is organized by topics, with each page surfacing relevant resources, policies, consultations, and training, from offices and groups around Duke. Key topic pages to visit include:

Contact myresearchpath@duke.edu with questions about the tool.

Research Data FAQs

Broadly speaking, the proposed policy is designed to help all research personnel at Duke University adopt the best practices regarding managing research data. The benefits of these practices include attaining confidence that research outputs and results are reproducible, research data and outputs are properly secured and retained, and that the impact of the research is increased by making appropriate data sets publicly accessible.

Importantly, new data management requirements are increasingly being released by various funding agencies, and the proposed policies are designed, in part, to respond to those and position Duke research personnel and research support staff to meet these coming requirements.

The Office for Research & Innovation currently provides many support services in the areas addressed by the proposed policies, but we are also anticipating that additional resources will be required. That is why we are sharing these proposed policies now and seeking feedback on what resources researchers will need to help them best comply with the policies.

The documents shared with the research community were policy proposals, not final drafts. We anticipate that many of the components and phrases included in these draft documents will also appear in the implemented versions of these policies – but input has been and continues to be critical. We do not want to set standards that research personnel cannot meet. In addition to the draft policy documents we are also thinking of, and looking for feedback on, what resources can be developed, implemented or scaled up in the months prior to January 2023 to assist with advancing research and meeting the standards we put forth.

No. Like Duke, many of our peer institutions are adapting policies to reflect the evolving expectations for managing and sharing data.

Duke University’s current policy on Research Records: Sharing, Retention, and Ownership (in Appendix P of the Faculty Handbook) establishes the University as the owner of research records. Ownership places the ultimate responsibility for stewardship of the data with the institution, who is also responsible for meeting all obligations concerning research data, and for supporting an environment in which the objectives of its policies and principles are met.

Yes. The proposed policies would govern the conduct of individuals interacting with research data and research outputs, regardless of funding.

Under the proposed Research Data policies, Duke University would not assert ownership over publicly available data sets. The policies would, however, encourage researchers to keep records of the data they access and to seek research support staff’s assistance in assuring that the data management practices are appropriate.

No, the proposed policies would not prohibit research personnel from working with data obtained through contracts. These proposed policies would require those contracts to be reviewed and signed by institutional signing officials.

No, the proposed policies do not prohibit the University from entering into contracts that confer ownership rights to third parties. The University, as the owner of research data and outputs, is within its rights to contract that ownership to other entities. Under current and proposed policies, such contracts must be reviewed and signed by institutional signing officials.

Data licensure is governed by the Data Licensing policy.

No. The proposed policy will set an expectation for the length of the retention period. Researchers should determine the appropriate storage location for their research data and outputs in consultation with institutional research support offices and according to the standards of their discipline.

A six-year retention period aligns with standards set by the Institutional Review Board and the Research Misconduct policy. Current Institutional policy sets a minimum retention period of five years; this introduces consistency across policies.

For further comments, questions, and to express interest in joining workgroups focused on policy implementation, email researchdata@duke.edu.


Contact the Team

The Research Data Initiative team is interested in feedback from the research community.

Contact the Team