Research Data Archive – Management Policy and Operational Practice

1. Purpose

The University of Birmingham’s Research Data Archive (RDA) is exclusively for the long term storage of data associated with published research. Unless specified otherwise, all data in the RDA will be accessible to the public.

2. Governance

The Research Data Archive is managed on behalf of the University by the Research Data Storage Management Board (RDSMB). The Research Computing Management Committee (with representation from each College) will act as the RDSMB, ensuring compliance with policy as well as equitable and efficient allocation of resources.

3. Organisation and Structure of Data

All data is managed along project lines whether that is a ‘standard’ or a ‘collaborative’ Project.

4. Ownership of Archived Data

a. All data in the RDA will have a named owner who is responsible for the data. This person must be a member of the University. He/she will normally be the Principal Investigator (PI) for the project. The person within the University of Birmingham with responsibility for the data will be known as the Data Steward.

b. If the Data Steward subsequently leaves the University or is absent for a prolonged period of time (e.g. on sabbatical), their line manager (or head of research group if no line-manager exists) will, by default, become the Data Steward until that responsibility is formally reassigned. In the event that the department or school ceases to exist then the role of the Data Steward will fall to the College Director of Research (DoR).

c. Where personal data (as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998) is processed for research purposes in the course of a researcher’s employment at the University of Birmingham, the University will be the Data Controller under the Act for that Data. This will include where personal data is stored in the RDA.

5. The Data Steward’s Responsibility

In all circumstances, the Data Steward will be personally responsible to the University for ensuring the proper administration and oversight of any data they have caused to be stored in the RDA. This will include the Data Steward providing such information as is reasonably required by the RDSMB, including a risk assessment for data storage purposes, so the Board can ensure archiving arrangements meet the University’s legal and ethical obligations.

a. It is the responsibility of the Data Steward for each research project to identify all data for archive and to choose appropriate data storage classes for their data in accordance with the project Research Data Management Plan.


[1] See ‘2014_Remit of the Management Committee’ for further detail


 b. It is the responsibility of the Data Steward to validate any data to be uploaded into the RDA and to authorise the upload. As part of the validation process, the Data Steward will be asked to re-confirm compliance with University Regulations, the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the University’s ethical requirements.

c. The Data Steward must also ensure appropriate and sufficient entries and meta-data are recorded in the Universities Current Research Information System (CRIS), currently PURE

d. The Data Steward will be responsible for the production and storage of metadata to address the semantic issues to explain what the data means.

e. Each project must have a maintenance and exit strategy in line with the requirements of the relevant funder. The Data Steward must specify on the BEAR Research Data Stores (BRDS)2 application form how long the data needs to be held for after the end of the project, essentially an expiry date.

f. Where the project generating the data has required an ethical review by an Ethics Committee, the Data Steward will be responsible for providing the RDSMB with documented evidence of the Committee’s approval and any conditions related to the archiving and or publication of the data.

g. The proposed storage of non-anonymised sensitive and/or personal data (as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998) will require the Data Steward to provide written approval from the University Legal Office, together with documented evidence of the Ethics Committee approval and any conditions related to the archiving and or publication of the data.

h. Under the Freedom of Information Act2000 (FOIA), third parties may request access to information held by Public Authorities, subject to certain exemptions. Such exemptions are interpreted strictly so research data may thus be requested under FOIA legislation. The Data Steward must first consult with the University Legal Office, and then inform the RDSMB, at the time of application, if they believe an exemption to third party access under the FOIA should apply to the data they wish to store in the Facility. They must provide details to the Legal Office of why the exemption applies to the data, and how long the exemption should last and specify the exemption in PURE. If a FOIA request is received, the Legal Office will assess whether the exemption applies at that point.

6. Archived Data: Format and Content

a. The Facility stores only research data associated with published research.

b. Archived data will only be accessible in its current form. Once the deposit process is complete, data may not be amended or deleted without the approval of the PVC for Research and Knowledge Transfer or their nominee.

[2] Application form in preparation


c. By default, the data being deposited will become publicly accessible unless an exception has been agreed by the Legal Office. (Details of the open-access process are yet to be finalised).

d. Data will be treated as raw data, not interpreted data for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act

e. Ensuring that the research project data remains readable and accessible in future is the responsibility of the Data Steward. Consideration of how this will be achieved in each case must be given at inception and detailed in the Data Management Plan. Note that readability and accessibility could be affected by, for example, changing document formats. Also it may not be possible to exactly reproduce computational data on a long term basis if the computer on which the data was originally generated no longer exists or is no longer functional.

f. Data will be returned to the Data Steward (or to the requester under Open Access arrangements) in its original form. Where an updated version exists this should be noted in PURE and provided.

7. Applying for space in the RDA

a. The Principal Investigator must consult their College Research Support Office and members of the IT Services’ Research Support Section when completing the grant application and Data Management Plan if a significant (large, specialised or complex) and long-term archive requirement is identified.

b. Details of default allocations and charging can be found in the document ‘Research Bids Guidance’ 3 where a form of words that might be included in grant applications can also be found.

c. Applications for storage in the University’s RDA are made via the Service Desk at

d. All applications will be reviewed by the members of the RDSMB or nominee.

e. Once approved, the Data Steward’s storage account will be created.

8. Management of the RDA

a. Data Stewards will be asked annually if the data is still required, and if so, whether the work that produced it has been cited. Details will be requested of further research projects using the data and any grants related to the research data held. This annual review and impact analysis will help in ensuring sustainability of the RDA.

b. To ensure efficient use of the facility and maximise available capacity, storage holdings and assets will be reviewed regularly by the RDSMB. A policy will be implemented to automatically relegate little used data down the storage hierarchy, for example to slower disk or to tape. The Research Data Storage and Management team reserves the right to review how data is held in the light of overall storage requirements.


[3] Application form in preparation

The RDSMB will review the data held and may contact Data Stewards towards the end of the specified retention period to see whether part or all the data held on their behalf is still required. In these circumstances, the Advanced Research Computing Team will aim to work with the Data Steward to move data to another infrastructure where appropriate. The Data Steward and his/her line manager can choose to hold a copy of the data - where feasible - after it has been removed from the RDA.

9. Conflict Resolution

The conflict resolution process will involve disputes being escalated by the Research Data Storage and Management Board to the PVC for Research and Knowledge Transfer, who will act as the final arbiter.

10. Referencing the RDA

PIs should reference the storage facility in publications, where the data produced by or underpinning the research is stored in the Facility. The suggested template wording is “Access to these data is made possible in part by using the BEAR storage facilities of the University of Birmingham -

Modified: 8 February 2017


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