Policy Number: 92

Research Data Retention and Access


Access to research data and retention of research data


Employees, faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, collaborators, program participants, and visiting researchers (scientists, students and trainees)

Date Reviewed: November 2012

Responsible Office: Office of Academic and Research Affairs

Responsible Executive: Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs


To discharge its legal, financial, ethical, and academic responsibilities, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("university") has established this policy concerning access to, use of and retention of research data. The intent of this policy is to ensure that parties with a legitimate interest in research results have access to and use of such data. This policy sets forth specific guidelines for research data at the university.

Research data are created by university faculty, staff, students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, collaborators, program participants, and visiting researchers in the course of scholarly activities.

For the purpose of this policy, "data" are defined as recorded and/or retained information regardless of the form or the media on which they may be recorded or retained. The term includes laboratory notebooks and worksheets, memoranda, original notes or exact copies of notes that are the result of original observation, video recordings, clinical protocols, spectra, computer files and digital data (including software source code), print-outs, images or any other records necessary for reconstruction and evaluation of the results of a study. In addition to "data," this policy applies to “materials”.  For the purpose of this policy, "materials" are defined as unique tangible research resources such as synthetic or natural compounds, organisms, cell lines, viruses, cell products, recombinant DNA, antibodies, mapping data, spectroscopic or x-ray data, software developed in the course of research, and such new tangible resources that emerge as science and technology progress.


The university owns research data and materials generated by faculty members, employees, students, fellows, visiting researchers, collaborators, program participants, and any other individuals conducting research within university facilities, or using university resources or funds irrespective of the performance site, unless specified otherwise in advance by written agreements approved by the Office of Legal Affairs or its designee, as applicable. Under certain conditions, the university may own research data and materials generated at other locations by its faculty members, students, fellows, or employees.

The principal or lead investigator of a research endeavor bears primary responsibility for the overall conduct of the research or scholarly activity. In the case of sponsored research, the individual designated in the award as the principal investigator is the primary person responsible for fulfilling the access and retention requirements on behalf of the university. The principal or lead investigator is also responsible for providing access to the data and materials and for retaining or ensuring retention of the data and materials. Complex projects with multiple investigators require that the principal investigator assert responsibility for access and retention for all components of the project at all performance sites.

Students, fellows, employees, collaborators, program participants, and visiting researchers who are involved in the research endeavor are required to make research data and materials obtained at the university, or using university resources or funds, readily available upon request to the principal investigator.

Research data for all projects must be retained in accordance with the Records Retention Schedule.

During the retention period, the principal investigator must provide data and materials to university administration upon request. Ready access to the data may also be required to be provided to co-authors and co-investigators, including but not restricted to fellows and students, and to representatives of external sponsors and designated government officials.

In the case of university employees and students who hold subcontracts for projects in which the principal investigator is at another institution, the university investigator is responsible for access and retention requirements for those aspects of the project performed at the university. In the case of university employees or students who perform research at another institution (such as during a faculty development leave or research elective), the data access and retention policy of the host institution will apply, although the university employee or student remains responsible to the university for his/her personal research data.

If the principal investigator leaves the university, he/she shall, in most cases, be permitted to take either the original data or a copy of such data, and a copy of materials needed to analyze, use or interpret the data (subject to all applicable requirements for the transfer of biological materials).  The decision whether to allow the departing investigator to take the original data or a copy will be made by the Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs on a case-by-case basis. The decision will depend upon the individual circumstances, including whether the departing individual will be transferring to another academic institution, whether an ongoing grant that supported the research will be transferred to another institution or will remain at the university under direction of a new PI, any requirements or stipulations of the research sponsor, the nature and format of the data or materials involved, the ease and expense of copying the data, and any other relevant considerations.

Any removal of data or materials by a departing investigator will be subject to the restrictions and conditions described below.  


ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Office of Academic and Research Affairs 713-500-3082