May 11, 2012

Does ICPSR have people who can assist in the preparation of metadata?

Yes, ICPSR data processors convert metadata to DDI format as a routine part of data curation. If the depositor is interested in doing the markup to create DDI files, ICPSR staff can assist in this work. Please contact Sanda Ionescu at

Which of your data management plan examples are for NSF and which are for NIH?

ICPSR has sought to make best practice recommendations for creating a data management plan. In reviewing the NSF and NIH guidance, we have found that ICPSR’s analysis of the elements of a data management plans meets both NSF and NIH recommendations.

The DMP Tool contains a list of DMP elements for many funding agencies as well.

Can research data be copyrighted?

Research data cannot be copyrighted, although research instruments and databases can be. The argument behind copyright for databases is complicated, but it has to do with the possibility for creative expression in the organization of the database, along with any copyrightable software to run the database. But even when a database is copyrighted, the data in the database remain uncopyrightable.

The principal investigator’s university is generally considered to be the holder of the intellectual property rights for the data the PI generates.

Do you have recommendations for intellectual property language for proposals that are collaborative and involve two or more PIs at two or more institutions who will be generating data together?

The PIs should determine together how to assign intellectual property rights and should consult university counsel at their respective institutions on this matter.

Is videotaped data included as part of the data-sharing requirement? How do you protect the confidentiality of your participants?

ICPSR and other repositories accept video data for archiving. Typically, video data are protected by limiting the conditions for accessing the data. One way that ICPSR controls access to confidential data is by requiring that prospective data users complete a restricted-use data agreement, which is a contractual agreement between ICPSR and the principal investigators and their organizations specifying the terms of use of the data.

Should a researcher obtain permission from a data archive before naming it in a data management plan?

It is good practice to notify the designated repository of your intention to deposit data. The repository will want to determine whether the data fit within the substantive scope of its collection development policies. If the data are determined to be appropriate for the repository, you can request a letter to submit with the data management plan as part of a grant application.

How much time is needed prior to proposal submission to obtain a letter of support from ICPSR?

ICPSR requests that researchers contact us at least a month before the grant application deadline.