Ethics and Confidentiality
Ethics and confidentiality should be considered early in any research project. Information on data storage, security, availability, and archiving should be included in Informed Consent documents. Well planned informed consent that carefully considers ethics and confidentiality can help make data more shareable.
Swarthmore College's Office of Institutional Research provides guidelines regarding privacy concerns.
Intellectual Property and Copyright
In general raw data on their own are considered facts and thus can not be copyrighted. However, data that are gathered together in a unique and original way, such as databases, can be copyrighted or licensed. It is important to understand data licensing from the perspective of both the data user and data creator. Note: The following are for informational purposes only.
When re-using existing data be sure to clarify ownership, obtain permissions if needed, and understand limits set by licenses. Be sure to provide appropriate attribution and citation. If licensing restricts sharing of the data, providing detailed information about where the data were obtained and how the data were analyzed can help with reproducibility.
There is increased pressure from funders and journals for researchers to release their research data. Applying appropriate licensing when data are released will help ensure proper re-use and attribution. There are many licenses available that represent the range of rights for the creator and licensee of the data. Two options for providing open licenses for research data are:
Creative Commons License - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/
Open Data Commons License - http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/