Research Data Policy Initiative

The mission of the Research Data Policy Initiative is to:

  1. Facilitate efficient and quality research
  2. Ensure data integrity
  3. Foster 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 related to ongoing research efforts at the institution. Duke’s policy on research data was last revised in 2007, and this initiative seeks to update to a policy, and associated processes and resources, that reflects the current data landscape and 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 

Data is an integral part of the research enterprise – from unfunded inquiries to federally-sponsored programs – and navigating which of the many requirements relating to security, storage and analysis apply to specific sets of data can be a laborious process. However, it’s critical to appropriately care for data as the improper management can – and has – lead to lost or stolen data, retracted articles and studies, and reputational harm at many of our peer institutions.  

As more sponsors and publishers release updated guidance, it is clear data, and its management, will continue to be an important area for the institution to support our faculty and researchers. The DPI is focused on developing policies that will provide clarity to the researchers and staff regarding their roles and responsibilities in managing data, and what resources are available to help them carry out those responsibilities. 

Since April 2020, the RDPI 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 of Research & Innovation, 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 of Research Leadership has presented the concept of the DPI to research and administrative leaders around the institution. On April 29th, from 12:30-2, we will have our first in a series of Research Town Halls.  Later in 2021, there will be opportunities for the community to engage in an online Request for Information regarding the draft policy.  

[last updated 3/22/2021]

We are in the process of developing principles and policy statements for Data Ownership, Access, Transfer and Management. As we begin to determine the guiding principles of policy, we will also consider what resources and procedures currently exist to support those policies, and which need to be developed in order to make the policies feasible and accessible for researchers and the Institution.  

We are currently sharing information and obtaining feedback from the Duke community through extensive outreach and updates. 

This process will be slow, deliberative and again, based on community input. While we are in the midst of policy and procedure development, there is no set publication or implementation date. Our goal is to release achievable policies and helpful procedures, and give staff and faculty time to adapt to the new expectations and guidelines.  

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 the our comment form, and DPI leadership will follow up as appropriate.   

Watch for updates from the Office of Research for opportunities to learn more about the DPI, such as Town Halls. 

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