How can I collect my research data

Research Data Services

Do I own the copyright to my data?

Copyright only protects the form of a work, not its content. Therefore, the copyright only applies to the presentation of the data. If these are presented verbally or graphically, texts and images can be protected by copyright. But not the results and data themselves. The same applies to ideas, methods and teachings, as these are free and therefore not protected by copyright - unless they are patented technical inventions or protected utility models.

Furthermore, a minimum of individuality and originality must be achieved in order to reach the height of creation. This is a prerequisite for copyright to apply. Research data are usually not subject to copyright law, as they do not reach the required level of creativity. Anamnesis, questionnaires / answers and even descriptions of experiments are therefore not subject to copyright law, for example.

Nevertheless, it is recommended to initially treat research data as if they were in need of protection within the meaning of the Copyright Act, as the intellectual performance required for this can sometimes be given. However, this can only be determined by examining each individual case.

Further information on the subject of copyright in research data can be found here.

Can I publish my data?

The publication of the data may not be permitted under certain conditions. The most important prerequisite for publication is that you are the full rights holder of the data. Furthermore, there is data that must be treated confidentially, such as personal data. A declaration of consent from the data subjects must be available for publication and, if necessary, the data must be anonymized.

Who else has the right to decide on the transfer or publication of data?

You don't always work on your research alone. It should be noted that fellow researchers, employers, clients, research sponsors or private contractors may also have rights to your data. The contractual relationships determine who may have a say in the transfer or publication. As a rule, the research results of research bound by instructions are the property of the employer or financier.

Which data protection regulations have to be observed?

Personal data are subject to strict data protection regulations in their collection, use and disclosure. Sensitive and personal research data can be shared ethically and legally. For this, the relevant legal texts (EU GDPR, BDSGalt, BDSG new and the state data protection law) must be complied with.

For the processing of personal data, it is essential to obtain the prior consent of the data subjects. The RatSWD (Council for Social and Economic Data) offers recommendations and sample declarations of consent on the subject of informed consent.

For archiving, provision and publication, a purpose limitation must already exist at the beginning. Information that can be assigned to a specific or identifiable person must be anonymized in order to protect the person's identity. There are different ways to anonymize personal data.

Two instructions for anonymization are available from the Education Research Data Center (FDZ Education) at the DIPF (German Institute for International Educational Research).

There is also a tool that helps you anonymize your research data. The OpenAIRE project provides the Amnesia tool for this purpose.

The principle of necessity and the principle of data economy apply in general. This means that there is so little personal data to be collected, used or processed.

Further information on data protection law can be found here.

Do I have control over the further use of my data by third parties?

You can regulate many aspects of use via corresponding contracts, such as the type of use. It makes sense to use standardized licenses such as Creative Commons or Open Data Commons.

What licenses are there and which should I use?

Since the research data are usually not subject to any independent legal protection, it makes sense to use a license. This establishes a contract for the use of the research data.

You can find a good overview of the topic on the website forschungs

The Research Data Repository (RADAR) has compiled the existing CC licenses in a table and published them under a CC-BY 4.0 license.

The CC-By license is particularly recommended if you act in accordance with the FAIR principle.

What should be considered in the case of employment contracts?

Employment contracts should contain clauses with which the contracting parties grant their future employer at least simple rights to use the data obtained in the course of their own research activities. The rights and types of use must be explicitly named.