Research Data Guidance

The University of California issued a Research Data Policy, effective July 15, 2022, that clarified “the Regents of the University of California owns Research Data generated or collected in the course of University Research, and exercises this responsibility to support research, collaboration, public dissemination of information, and to meet its responsibility under sponsored research awards and other research agreements.” Ownership of Research Data by the University of California is a longstanding precept originally articulated in Regulation 4 (Academic Personnel Manual 020).

Policy highlights

The UC policy defines research data as recorded information embodying facts resulting from a scientific inquiry, regardless of the form or media in which they may be recorded. Research data does not include: 

  • “Scholarly and Aesthetic Works” defined under the University of California’s Copyright Ownership Policy;
  • Informal notes, preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, and communications with colleagues that do not include recorded information embodying facts resulting from a scientific inquiry;
  • Administrative records incidental to award administration such as financial records, contract and grant records, or records related to institutional reviews and approvals; and 
  • Patient source documents and medical records created in the course of clinical care.

The policy identifies principal investigators as the primary stewards of research data. Research data will be retained by the principal investigator of a research project. However, the university may take custody of research data under certain circumstances, such as where necessary to perform any investigations associated with allegations of research misconduct, litigation, or to ensure continuity of research.

The responsibility for the interpretation, implementation, and oversight of the policy is assigned to the Vice Chancellor for Research.

 For more information, visit FAQs about UC’s Research Data Policy.

Principal investigator’s responsibilities when conducting research

  • The PI provides scholarly leadership pertaining to research data, including the collection, recording, managing, and disposal of research data.
  • The PI determines use of research data by other university researchers and collaborators on the project in accordance with relevant agreements, their scholarly discipline’s practices, and the need for academic progress of academic appointees, postdoctoral scholars, degree candidates, and other students.

When a research project is completed

The PI determines what research data should be preserved or dispositioned, and should adhere to the most stringent of the applicable requirements, based on the following:

  • Legal, funder, or contractual requirements (including incoming and outgoing data transfer and use agreements);
  • Retention requirements of their scholarly discipline, campus departments, funding agencies, and applicable law and regulation;
  • Protection of intellectual property and completion of university patenting and licensing procedures for inventions;
  • Subject to allegations of research or other misconduct, investigations, or litigations;
  • For research projects that involved articles regulated by Food and Drug Administration retention, consistent with 21 C.F.R. §§ 312.6 and 812.140- Retention of records for two years or as long as required following the date a marketing application is approved for the product; or if a marketing application is not filed or FDA-approved, for two years after the investigation is terminated, completed, or otherwise discontinued and the FDA is notified; or
  • For student participation in research (in advancing to a degree), retention of research data connected to that research until the student has been awarded a degree, or until the student is no longer working on the project or is not enrolled in the university.

When university researchers leave UC Santa Cruz

If a university researcher is leaving UC Santa Cruz and requests a copy of the research data generated in the course of their UC Santa Cruz research, the principal investigator will review the request and any applicable requirements (sponsor, regulatory, legal, etc.).

If the principal investigator is leaving UC Santa Cruz and plans to take research data to a new institution, contact the Office of Research at to initiate a data use agreement to ensure compliance with applicable requirements (sponsor, regulatory, legal, etc.). Co-principal investigators (if applicable) will also be consulted.

The departing PI must arrange with their division, department, and/or other academic unit for the management or disposition of any research data that remains at UC Santa Cruz, to ensure accordance with university policies and/or legal, funder or contractual requirements. 

Research data procedures

Incoming research data

For any agreements in which UC Santa Cruz is receiving research data from an external provider (industry, university, non-profit, research institutes, government, etc.), contact the Office of Research’s Industry Alliances team at to initiate an agreement.   

Outgoing research data

Principal Investigators: When a principal investigator leaves UC Santa Cruz and a university research project will be moved to another institution, the research data under that project may be transferred to the new institution under an appropriate agreement. Contact the Office of Research at to start the process.

Researchers: When researchers (other than the principal investigator) involved in a university research project leave UC Santa Cruz, they may take copies of the research data that they generated or collected during their university research, subject to approval by the principal investigator and any applicable sponsor requirements. Such distribution of copies of research data requires a data transfer and use agreement (DTUA), as  the ownership of the research data remains with UC Santa Cruz and principal investigators continue to be the primary stewards. Researchers intending to take copies of UC Santa Cruz data must contact the Industry Alliances team at to initiate a DTUA before taking copies of the research data.

Data transfer and use agreements

A data transfer and use agreement (DTUA) authorizes the transfer of a data set for specified limited purposes (e.g., conducting human research). DTUA terms typically address intellectual property, publication, confidentiality, etc. In some cases, these data use terms can be incorporated into an existing agreement for the transaction, such as a subaward, material transfer agreement, or other collaboration agreement.

Entering into a DTUA is best practice any time a UC Santa Cruz researcher is granting access and/or transferring UC Santa Cruz generated data to a non-UC Santa Cruz entity for research purposes. The DTUA will protect the data, ensure they remain under UC Santa Cruz ownership, and limit the purpose of how the data are used. If the data contains Protected Health Information (PHI), a DTUA is required.

Disposition of research data

The principal investigator should review considerations when a research project is completed, and consult the appropriate Research Data Contacts to ensure there are no remaining retention obligations before disposing of the research data.


Research data contacts

Data-related agreements (DUA, DTUA)

Director of Industry Alliances

Other related resources

Last modified: May 13, 2024