Frequently Asked Questions

An FAQ on Research Data Management and Data Ownership

Data custodianship and ownership

Who owns my data?

In most cases your institution owns your research data, but other arrangements may have been made. However, it is actually more important to focus on the question of data exploitation: Who can use the data? Who can publish it? Who can provide it to third parties?

We strongly recommend that you deal with the subject of data exploitation at an early stage of your research project. Write down agreements between yourself, your supervisor and other interested parties in your Data Management Plan.

Please note that Wageningen University & Research is currently writing guidelines for data ownership and data exploitation. When these are finished, they'll be posted here.

If I leave Wageningen University & Research, can I take my research data with me?

It depends on your agreements with your department and other interested parties. Generally speaking, it is in your institution's best interest if the scientific field can make optimal use of your research data. Seen from this perspective, no one may object if you take the research data with you as this will enhance the chance of it being used. However, whether or not you can take the data with you depends on what you intend to do with them.

Considerations in the field of privacy, patient interests and commercial interests (non-disclosure agreements) could reduce your chances of taking your research data with you. In any case always store the data at the institution that owns it.

Can I get into trouble when my data are stored in the cloud?

Yes. For example, when you store your data files with a cloud service that has its servers located in the US, like Dropbox, you fall within US jurisdition. The US is subject to the Freedom Act. US authorities can demand the details of your account. If you wish to use a cloud storage service, it is better to use SURFdrive. This is a service developed for Dutch educational institutions and has its servers located in the Netherlands. Contact the IT Servicedesk if you would like a SURFdrive account. If you are storing sensitive data, however, it is best not to use cloud storage at all. In that case, we advise you to use Sharepoint, the W-drive or the M-drive so that your data is stored on the servers in Wageningen.

What do I do if someone else wants my data? Do I have to provide access before publication?

No. According to the verifiability principle of The Code of Conduct for Academic Practice whenever research results are published, it is clear what the data and conclusions are based on, where they originate from and how they can be verified.

Am I personally responsible for taking good care of my research data?

Yes. Individual researchers may be challenged to be transparent about the choices that they've made for Data Management and data sharing. These choices need to follow Wageningen University & Research's ethical guidelines. The Code of Conduct for Academic Practice states that raw research data should be kept for at least 10 years and in such a way that they can be consulted at all times with a minimal expense of time and effort. This means carefully thinking about Data Management Planning.

Planning my research - preparing for data collection

What are the institutional requirements and policy on data management planning?

Wageningen Graduate Schools requires PhD students to create a Data Management Plan (DMP). Chair groups are also required to have a Data Management Plan for their group. For PhD students, the DMP will be an appendix to their research proposal and will be subject to review by Wageningen Graduate Schools. See Data Management Planning for more information.

How do I write a data management plan? Do you have a template and examples I can look at?

Yes, we do. You can find the template and examples on our Support page on Data Management Planning. In the template you will find information on how to fill in your Data Management Plan.

What is my funder's policy on data management planning?

Most funders have requirements on data management planning and data publication. We have compiled details for NWO/STW, Horizon 2020, ZonMw, NSF and RCUK on this support page.

The funder requirements are applicable to projects starting now. They do not apply to projects that have already started.

How can I find research data that I can use for my research?

There is no overall search service for datasets.

When you're looking for datasets published in Dutch data repositories only, you can browse through Narcis.

Click here for datasets in different repositories by Wageningen University & Research authors.

Zanran is a service that scans the public internet for webpages that look as if they contain numerical data or statistics.

Doing my research - managing current data

How do I protect my data from incidental loss?

You can protect your data from incidental loss by using a storage medium that is secure, by making regular backups and by ensuring that the backup of your research data is as independent as possible from the main storage. See 'Storage solutions' for more information.

Where can I store my current research data?

Wageningen University & Research offers different managed storage solutions to securely store your data. You can choose personal or shared storage solutions with backup options. For all additional options see our support page 'Storage solutions'.

How do I ensure that others understand my data?

By documenting your data files you give subtitles to your datasets. What is your data about? Concise and clear data documentation helps you as well as current and future users to understand the context in which your data were collected and increases the chance your data can be found, understood and reused. See our support page 'Data documentation' for more details on how to prepare data documentation.

How do I structurally store my data so that I and others can find them?

You do this by designing a logical folder structure and consistently applying descriptive files names over time. See 'Organising files and folders' for some best practices. Also, don't forget to add adequate 'Data documentation' to your folders.

Where can I safely store and manage my software source code & scripts?

You can safely store and manage your source code & scripts at Git@WUR. This environment was especially created to store and to collaborate on source code and statistical models built at Wageningen University & Research. Visit our support page 'Managing your source code' for more information.

Where can I get huge computer power to analyse my data?

Wageningen University & Research has a High Performance Computer facility. The HPC can be used for variety of research applications within the domain of the life sciences. Are you interested in using the HPC? Have a look at the service page 'High Performance Computing Cluster (HPC)' for more information.

How can I access my data files when I'm not on campus?

If you use the managed storage services of Wageningen University & Research, you can access your files through

How can I securely exchange/collaborate on my research data with others inside and outside the institution?

The exact solution depends on several factors:

  • Who needs access to your research data and from where?
  • Do you just want to transfer data or do you wish to collaborate?

Depending on your answers we offer project or department shares through the W drive, through the creation of a Team site or through the use of the FTP-service. See 'Exchanging data' to choose the option that best fits your needs.

To collaborate on source code, Wageningen University & Research has developed Git@WUR.

Finishing my research - keeping and publishing final data

What are the minimum data retention periods?

Raw research data should be kept for at least ten years. The Code of Conduct for Academic Practice states you have to make the data available on request to other academic practitioners, unless legal requirements dictate otherwise. Journals and learned societies may also demand a certain data retention period which is never shorter than ten years.

When I leave Wageningen University & Research, where should my data be kept?

Check the data policy of your chair group to see whether any specific arrangements have been made for keeping your data after your research project ends.

Wageningen University & Research offers different managed storage solutions to securely store your data. See 'Storage Solutions'. Make sure you do not store the data on your personal drive only, because this drive will be deleted after you leave Wageningen University & Research.

What are the data availability policies of journals in my field of research?

In general, most journals encourage data publishing but data availability policies differ on a journal to journal basis. We have compiled a list of the data availability statements for the top 20 journals in which Wageningen University & Research researchers publish. See 'Journal Requirements'.

What options do I have to publish my research data?

You can publish your final data in several ways. The most common are publishing data as supplementary material to your research paper or publishing data in a public data repository. Find out the best option for your research data on our Support page.

Should I publish all of my research data or can I make a selection?

In general, funders and publishers encourage you to publish the data on which your research paper is based. Follow the steps in this flowchart to check whether your dataset is a candidate for data publication in a public data repository. Click to enlarge the image.


What can I do if I can't publish my data because of privacy or other issues?

If publishing your data Open Access is not ethical or legal, you still have to make your data available on request for verification purposes. You may consider publishing your dataset in restricted access and allow the data to be found by openly describing the dataset and how it may be accessed. See also 'When and why to publish your dataset'.

Can Wageningen University & Research help me link my research data/source code and articles?

Yes, we can. Once your dataset/source code is published we can assign a persistent identifier, register your datasets/source code in Staff Publications and link them to the accompanying publications. In this way the visibility of both your datasets/source code and your publications is enhanced. See 'Publishing your dataset in a repository' for more information or contact Data Management Support.