A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties. A number of specific issues need to be addressed prior to the commencement of a research project relating to the use, management, sharing and ownership of research data and information.

Some examples of agreements include:

With research funders:

  • The research funding agreement may stipulate that the funding organization has a claim to, or ownership of, the intellectual property (copyrights and other rights) created through the funded research;
  • Alternatively, the agreement may grant licence rights to the funding organisation with respect to the use of the data. Even if the funding organization does not acquire full ownership, they may be granted specific rights to use, share, or commercialize the data as outlined in the agreement.

With collaborators:

  • Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA): This agreement should specify whether data ownership is joint, shared, or retained by the originating party and clearly articulate the rights granted to each collaborator for using and disseminating the data. It should also address Intellectual Property (IP) rights including the ownership and potential commercialization of IP resulting from collaborative effort;
  • Indigenous Culture and IP (ICIP) Agreements: Agreements related to Indigenous culture and intellectual property often prioritize community rights and control over the data. Ownership may remain with the Indigenous community, and researchers might be granted specific, limited rights for their research purposes.
    ICIP may also be relevant in the context of data providers (below)

With data providers:

Several types of agreements with data providers may be relevant, including:

  • Confidentiality Agreement: Ownership usually remains with the data provider, and the receiving party (your research team) is obligated to keep the information confidential and not disclose it to third parties;
  • Data Transfer Agreement: Ownership and rights are often specified in these agreements. They may grant the recipient certain rights to use the data for the intended purpose but restrict further dissemination or commercialization without explicit permission;
  • Application under the Public Health Act 2005 (PHA): Ensure that you understand the terms related to data ownership, as some PHAs might allow specific uses for public health research while preserving certain rights for the data provider.

Make sure that any agreement you enter into makes the conditions for storing and sharing any derived data clear.

Always consult Research and Innovation Services for further information at for specific advice.