Management Policy and Operational Practice

1.    Purpose

The University’s Research Data Store (RDS) provides an integrated and secure service, available to researchers from all disciplines for storage of active/working data associated with current research projects. The Store is for the exclusive use of University of Birmingham researchers and their registered collaborators.

2.    Governance

The Research Data Store is managed on behalf of the University by the Research Data Storage Management Board (RDSMB). The Research Computing Management Committee (with representation from each College) will act as the RDSMB, ensuring compliance with policy as well as equitable and efficient allocation of resources.

3.    Organisation and Structure of Data

All data is managed along project lines whether that is a ‘standard’ or a ‘collaborative’ Project.

Active data is held on disc, replicated between IT Services data centres to minimize the risk of service outage and time to recover data in the unlikely event of a major failure. As a final backstop, data will also be backed up to tape for disaster recovery.

Periodic snapshots will also be taken to provide a short term mechanism for recovering lost files/previous versions though it should be noted that this cannot guarantee the recovery of any file from any point in time.

4.    Ownership of Active Data

a.    All data in the RDS will have a named owner who is responsible for the data.  This person must be a member of the University. He/she will be the Data Steward (or Information Asset Owner for the purposes of the University’s Information Security Policy) and will normally be the Principal Investigator (PI) for the project.

b.    If the Data Steward subsequently leaves the University or is absent for a prolonged period of time (e.g. on sabbatical), their line manager (or head of research group if no line-manager exists) will, by default, become the Data Steward until that responsibility is formally re-assigned.In the event that the department or school ceases to exist then the role of the Data Steward will fall to the College Director of Research (DoR).

c.    Where personal data (as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998) is processed for research purposes in the course of a researcher’s employment at the University of Birmingham, the University will be the Data Controller under the Act for that Data. This will include where personal data is stored in the RDS.

[1] See ‘2015_Remit of the Management Committee’  for further detail, see

5.    The Data Steward’s Responsibility
In all circumstances, the Data Steward will be personally responsible to the University for ensuring the proper administration and oversight of any data they have caused to be stored in the RDS. This will include the Data Steward providing such information as is reasonably required by the RDSMB.

a.    It is assumed that the Data Steward for each research project will store data in the RDS in accordance with the project Data Management Plan.

b.    It is the responsibility of the Data Steward to nominate and give access to members of the research project and external collaborators.

c.    Use of the RDS is subject to University Regulations, the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the University’s ethical requirements.

d.    The Data Steward is encouraged to develop and record appropriate meta-data for the project from inception and recorded in the Universities Current Research Information System (CRIS), currently PURE.

e.    When completing the request for storage via the Service Desk, the Data Steward (PI) must provide essential information about the project and the requirement, including the anticipated duration of the storage requirement.

f.    The proposed storage of non-anonymised sensitive and/or personal data (as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998) will require the Data Steward to confirm that the project has approval from the University Legal Office along with any relevant Ethics Committee approval. Requirements and any conditions must be discussed with the Research Computing Team before depositing data. This would include any requirement for the encryption of data. Data must be encrypted by the client (at the researcher’s computer, phone or other devices) before being sent to RDS. The researcher retains the encryption key which ensures that no other party, including IT Services, has access to the contents.

g.    Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), third parties may request access to information held by Public Authorities, subject to certain exemptions. Such exemptions are interpreted strictly so research data may thus be requested under FOIA legislation.  

h.    The Data Steward must take steps to ensure allocated space is used only for the specified purpose and actively managed by organizing the data and discarding redundant data.

6.    Stored Data:  Format and Content and Access

a.    The Facility stores only research data. Further, data associated with published research, must be deposited in the relevant, discipline specific repository or in the University’s Research Data Archive (RDA) and recorded in the Current Research Information System (CRIS).

b.    A subset of the data may be made accessible to the research project and collaborators through the BEAR DataShare service. The Data Steward is responsible for identifying data suitable for sharing and depositing this in the project DataShare folder.

7.    Applying for space in the RDS

a.    The Data Steward must consult their College Research Support Office and members of the IT Services Research Support Section when completing the grant application and Data Management Plan if a significant (large i.e > 3TB, specialised or complex) and long-term storage requirement is identified.

b.    Details of default allocations and charging can be found in Research Bids Guidance document where a form of words that might be included in grant applications can also be found.

c.    Applications for storage in the University’s RDS are made via the IT Service Desk. Go to the Service Catalog and look for Research Data Services Request.

d.    All applications will be reviewed by the members of the RDSMB or nominee.

e.    Once approved, the PI’s storage account will be created. It is then the PI’s responsibility to allocate access rights etc to the Team.

8.    Management of the RDS

a.    Data Stewards will be asked annually to confirm the project is still active and the data still required. This annual review will inform capacity planning and ensure the long term sustainability of the RDS.

b.    To ensure efficient use of the facility and maximise available capacity, storage holdings and assets will be reviewed regularly by the RDSMB. A policy will be implemented to automatically relegate little used data down the storage hierarchy, for example to slower disk or to tape. The RDSMB reserves the right to review how data is held in the light of overall storage requirements.

The RDSMB will review the data held and may contact Data Stewards towards the end of the specified retention period to agree future plans.


9.    Conflict Resolution

The conflict resolution process will involve disputes being escalated by the Research Data Storage and Management Board to the PVC for Research and Knowledge Transfer, who will act as the final arbiter.