The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) assigns researchers and their institutions a shared responsibility to manage research data and primary materials well, by addressing aspects of ownership, storage and retention, and accessibility. Griffith University has responded to this at a policy level in Section 7 of the Griffith University Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, endorsed by the Academic Committee in July 2012 and subsequently updated in November 2015.

Researchers are required to manage their data – using methods appropriate to the discipline and to the nature of the data – to the highest standards. These standards include legislation, policies, funding agency requirements, technical protocols, audit and accreditation processes, discipline norms and the expectations of the broader community.

The University is required to provide infrastructure (institutional, regional, national and international), opportunities to develop professional skills, and access to advice and expertise that enable researchers to meet these standards.

In 2011, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), as one of seventeen health research funders and four partner organisations, signalled their intent “to increase the availability to the scientific community of the research data we fund that is collected from populations for the purpose of health research”.[1] In 2012, the NHMRC mandated the deposit of publication outputs from NHMRC funded research into institutional repositories, and in 2015 released a statement encouraging data sharing and providing access to data and other research outputs arising from NHMRC supported research.”[2]

The Australian Research Council (ARC) released its Open Access Policy in January 2013. While this policy currently only applies to publication outputs, the ARC’s Discovery Projects Funding Rules for funding commencing in 2016 and 2017 notes:

Researchers and institutions have an obligation to care for and maintain research data in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007). The ARC considers data management planning an important part of the responsible conduct of research and strongly encourages the depositing of data arising from a Project in an appropriate publically accessible subject and/or institutional repository.[3]

In 2014, applicants for ARC funding were required for the first time to “Outline plans for the management of data produced as a result of the proposed research, including but not limited to storage, access and re-use arrangements”.[4]

These developments in national research policy align Australia more closely with other countries such as the United Kingdom[5] and the United States,[6] where funding agencies’ requirements for data management and data sharing plans are well-established. To improve research performance as measured by grants from international and national funders, Griffith University must strengthen its commitment to comply with those agencies’ strategic agendas and formal requirements around data management, and particularly data sharing and publication.

In addition to meeting compliance requirements, Griffith recognises that better management of research data could enhance the profile of the University and its researchers. Evidence is emerging in some disciplines that suggests sharing supporting research data has a positive impact on publication citation rates. One study of cancer microarray clinical trial publications found that publicly available data was associated with a 9% increase in citations, independent of journal impact factor, date of publication, and author country of origin.[7] Another study of more than 7000 astronomical science articles showed that articles with associated data received 20% more citations compared to articles without these links.[8]

Infrastructure is emerging that will enable the research impact of data collections to be more formally measured in their own right.[9] The dissemination of Griffith data assets could also increase informal impact amongst other stakeholder communities. Industry, government agencies, schools and not-for-profit organisations could potentially re-use Griffith data to support a range of activities with positive economic, social and cultural outcomes


[1] Wellcome Trust (2011). Sharing research data to improve public health: full joint statement by funders of health research. Available at: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/Policy/Spotlight-issues/Data-sharing/Public-health-and-epidemiology/WTDV030690.htm

[2] National Health and Medical Research Council (2015). NHMRC statement on data sharing. Available at: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/media/nhmrc_updates/2015/nhmrc-statement-data-sharing (Alt link: https://nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/principles-accessing-and-using-publicly-funded-data-health-research)

[3] Australian Research Council. Funding Rules for schemes under the Discovery Programme (2016 edition). Available at http://www.arc.gov.au/sites/default/files/filedepot/Public/NCGP/FT16/FT16_Funding_Rules.pdf

[4] Australian Research Council. Discovery Projects – Instructions to Applicants for funding commencing in 2017/2018. Available at:

2017: http://www.arc.gov.au/sites/default/files/filedepot/Public/NCGP/DP17/DP17_ITA_201512b.pdf

2018: http://www.arc.gov.au/sites/default/files/filedepot/Public/NCGP/DP18/DP18_ITAs.pdf

[5] Digital Curation Centre. Overview of funders’ data policies. Available at: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/policy-and-legal/overview-funders-data-policies

[6] Dietrich, Diane, et al (2012). De-Mystifying the Data Management Requirements of Research Funders. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. DOI:10.5062/F44M92G2

[7] Piwowar, H. A., & Vision, T. J. (2013). Data reuse and the open data citation advantage. PeerJ, 1, e175.

https://peerj.com/articles/175/

[8] Henneken, E. A., & Accomazzi, A. (2011). Linking to Data - Effect on Citation Rates in Astronomy. arXiv:1111.3618

[9] For example, in late 2012 Thomson Reuter launched its Data Citation Index, a resource to facilitate the discovery, use and attribution of research data.