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Restricting Access to Data

There are a number of reasons why you can justify withholding your research data. Withholding data means taking a decision not to openly publish them, even if there are obligations to funders or publishers to openly share the outputs of research.

If you receive a request for research data or information about your research under the Freedom of Information Act or a request for personal information under the Data Protection Act (login to the intranet to view) you should immediately refer the request to: Teresa Kelly - Data Protection Officer.

Research funders with data sharing policies typically require that research data are made as openly available as possible, recognising that there may be legal, ethical or commercial reasons why access to some data may need to be restricted. These restrictions typically apply at all stages of a project so that the research process is not damaged by inappropriate release of data.

Access to research data does not have to be completely open. If there are justified reasons why some research data cannot or should not be made openly available, it may still be possible to share subsets of your data either through use of consent and anonymisation, or by regulating and restricting access to specific users. This should always be considered in preference to a blanket restriction.

Even if data are identified as unsuitable for open access, other data management requirements will still apply. A data management plan should be used to identify and document reasons for withholding data and publications should still include a data access statement. This statement should include reasons why the data are not openly available and, if possible, conditions for access being granted.

The information below provides guidance to help you determine whether you may be justified in withholding your research data from publication. If you are unsure as to whether you could or should make your data openly available, please email the research data team before you publish your data.

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