When conducting research, it always has to be clarified on what conditions the data can be used and possibly to agree on the ownership and right of use to the data. It is important to do this already at the preparation stage of the study, especially from the point of view of the reuse of the research results and data. Before drafting the research agreement, the funder’s requirements on research data should also be checked so that any agreement on the data follows these requirements. Furthermore, it should be checked that the right of use to the background materials used in the study are clarified.
In contract research (i.e. all research conducted in projects funded with external funding), an agreement on the transfer of intellectual property rights is appended to the employment contract of the University’s teaching and research personnel, according to which the right to the data is transferred to the University in the extent required by the funder or partner. The Transfer of Rights Agreement is included in the employment contracts of other staff members when they participate in the said externally funded research.
In research conducted with basic funding, the rights to the data primarily remain with the person who collected the data. If researchers from several organisations have participated in the research, the rights to data are owned collectively. Possible owners can be both organisations and private persons. In these cases, the rights to the data are dependent on, for example, the consortium agreement of the research project. Furthermore, the members of the research group, even within the same organisation, should agree among themselves on the right of use to the data.
When a researcher changes organisations, they have to separately find out and possibly agree on how they can use the data they have collected in the future and what the ownership of the data is.
Also students and grantees who are not in an employment relationship with the University can sign the agreement on the transfer of intellectual property rights which ensures that the data they collect is precisely identified and the University is granted parallel right of use.
More information on the agreement on the transfer of intellectual property rights and other above-mentioned agreements on user and ownership rights to research data can be found in the intranet of the University of Turku and, if you have any questions, you can contact the Legal Affairs unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the planning stages of the study, it is also necessary to agree on authorship. A check list for agreeing on the authorship between the parties of the research project is available at the website of the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (PDF).
The data collection phase of the ongoing research also includes different kinds of agreements and levels of consent from the research participants. When using an outside organisation for information collection or interviews, it has to be defined and agreed who owns the research data or manages it, and how the research participants are informed about the use of the data. At the latest, this should be done when drafting the data collection agreement.
The user rights to archived data is defined individually by each archive. When confidential documents are used in the study, the right of use is defined by the person/organisation providing the material. Online data that is openly available can be freely used in research, but their archival for further use is not always possible.
When the data is collected directly from the participants, the information given to them significantly defines the right of use to the data. More information on informing the participants is available on the website of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive.