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Ownership of and Access to Your Research Data

Rules on ownership, rights, commercial interests and ethical concerns such as privacy, confidentiality, and cultural sensitivity determine the extent to which research data, results and outcomes can be accessed and shared.

Watch this video to learn more about different types of data access: Open/Shared/Closed: the World of Data

Don't forget to consider the related issues of:


Research and research data are rarely created or collected without an agreement of some kind. Whether it be a funding agreement or a collaboration agreement between parties, an agreement establishes what research is to be done, and by whom.

It is important that the agreement also addresses ownership in relation to data supplied by the parties for use in the research work (data inputs) and for the data outputs from the research. These decisions can affect how and where the data will be stored, and how and if it will be possible to share the data outputs with others in the future. Incorporating these decisions into an agreement will ensure they are dealt with at the earliest opportunity, ideally before the research begins.

In general, Massey University's Intellectual Property Policy specifies that the University claims the benefit of intellectual property created at the University, but that staff and students retain the copyright over their work. We recommend that you read the full policy and understand how it applies to your specific research situation.


Copyright is a property right that exists in certain categories of original works listed in the Copyright Act 1994.

Copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. A dataset can attract copyright if it meets certain criteria or thresholds of human authorship, originality, or creativity. For example, though raw measurements are not copyrightable, the organisation of those numbers by a researcher, is.

The web page Copyright and Copyright Transfer Agreements addresses copyright as it applies to carrying out research, and publishing research.

Further advice:

Massey Enterprise - for information about the commercialisation of intellectual property from research and discovery within Massey University

Guidance Note 4 on Databases and Datasets (NZGOAL) - For information on how the Copyright Act 1994 applies.


A license states what can be done with research data and how that data can be redistributed.

Licensing your research outputs (including data) communicates your explicit permission for others to use your work under specific conditions. A copyright license ensures that data is attributed to you and will also apply some restrictions around how your data can be used and shared in other research.

Creative Commons licensing is a globally recognised suite of six licenses that allow for different levels of sharing and reuse. The licenses range from ‘all rights reserved’ copyright to ‘public domain’.

The following flowcharts from the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) are intended to guide you through the licensing process. The colours indicate different steps in this activity: blue for licensing questions, orange indicates caution is required, red indicates concern or the need for legal advice, and green indicates you can complete the process.

Data Rightsholder's (Creator's) Flowchart

Data User's Flowchart

Data Supplier's Flowchart

Ethical data collection, management and use

Consider the ethical implications of how you will collect your data, manage it and provide access to others.  The main concerns include:

  • Consent: You should obtain informed consent before collecting data from participants in research. You may also need consent from participants to publish, share or re-use their data (including publishing it in an open or restricted access archive)
  • Privacy: In most circumstances you should remove identifying characteristics from your published data to ensure that individuals cannot be identified. This includes ensuring, where possible, that individuals will remain anonymous if their data is linked with other datasets.

Further advice:

Cultural Research Data

The following resources provide guidance on the ethical conduct of Māori and Pasifika research, including considerations for research data. You can use these to inform your data management activities, including decisions on access and sharing.


Massey University Intellectual Property Policy: Schedule 7 Maori Language Resources and Traditional Knowledge.

Te Ara Tika: Guidelines for Māori research ethics: a framework for researchers (Health Research Council of New Zealand)

Te Mata Ira: Guidelines for Genomic Research with Māori. This publication outlines a framework for addressing Māori ethical issues within the context of genetic or genomic research. Read in conjunction with Te Ara Tika.

Principles of Māori Data Sovereignty (Te Mana Rarauranga/Maori Data Sovereignty Network) - provides a general overview of key terms and principles.

For further information on Māori research and links to contacts, visit the Māori research homepage.


Pacific Research Guidelines and Protocols

For questions relating to the conduct of Pasifika research, contact the Massey University Pacific Research and Policy Centre.

Publish and Share Your Research Data Tool Kit

Researcher Development

Contact Us

Contact a Subject Librarian
Your first point of contact in the library for RDM guidance, training opportunities and practical support. Subject librarians also provide personal research help by email, phone, or appointment.

Research Development Team
Data management (funder retention requirements) advice for current and future research projects.

Information Technology Services (ITS)
Data-related services and advice on storage, backup, security, data quality, and metadata identification. Limited software for home installation.


These guidelines are informed by information provided under open licenses by other organisations including:

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