Legal Aspects

A number of legal aspects must be considered when archiving research data. These include protection of data which were collected from individuals, transferring non-exclusive rights to the archive for long-term preservation and dissemination of research data, and rights granted to other researchers to use data and documents.

Issues surrounding personal data and data protection must be addressed when archiving individual-level data. Under which legal framework was data collected? Have data been anonymized? Under what access conditions are data available?

The following aspects have to be taken into account when preparing data for archiving:

  • Research has been carried out on the basis of informed consent from participants.
  • There are no legal or ethical impediments preventing archiving such as contractual obligations to a data owner or funder or other legal limitations.
  • Data must not contain direct identifiers like names, addresses, telephone numbers, vehicle number plates, social security numbers, etc.
  • The data should be anonymized in a way that renders the success of re-identifying individuals by combining information from the data-set virtually impossible (so called 'factual anonymity', German Data Protection Law, §3).
  • Data difficult to anonymize can still be re-used responsibly through access restrictions.
    The legal protection of disclosive data can be ensured by a restrictive user license or limiting access to exclusive on-site use (at the GESIS premises).

As the creator of data and the documentation you own the Intellectual Property Rights of the research data . When archiving you transfer the so-called non-exclusive rights of use and rights of reproduction to the archive on the basis of an archive agreement.

The non-exclusive rights of use comprise of the right to pass data and documentation to a third party and the right to change the format of digital objects (data files, tables, etc.) for the purpose of long-term preservation (e.g. migrating files to the latest formats).

In the context of transferring rights of use the issue of authorship and intellectual property must be clarified. So, for instance, no digitized books or scientific publications of a third party must be archived .

Here you find our archive agreement (88 kB) with further information.

An archive agreement governs rights and responsibilities of depositor and GESIS (see above: Copyright).

The agreement determines type of data access. Terms of Use stipulate that, amongst other conditions, the data must be used solely within a specified project and must not be passed on to a third party. Usually, GESIS held data is available under access category A (use for scientific purposes), although other categories also may apply (see Terms of Use).

For sensitive data depositors can opt for tighter access restrictions (see above: Data Protection). At its most simple, this could mean a user must obtain permission from the depositor through GESIS to use the data. At its most restrictive a user contract specifies data is only accessible offline by physically visiting the GESIS data archive.