AAU Handbook

Policy for research data management

Published: 27.03.2019 (Last revised: 28.03.2019)

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1.Application field

1.1. This policy comprises all employees, guest researchers, and others, who carry out or support research activities within the framework of Aalborg University.

1.2. The policy covers research data that has been collected and/or used in connection with research activities at AAU in all formats and media. In The Danish Code of Integrity in Research, 2014, this is defined as primary material and data respectively. In this policy, the concept of “research data” covers both terms unless it is otherwise explicitly stated. Physical material, software, and algorithms are not covered by this policy.

1.3. This policy is a supplement to national as well as international law - e.g. the General Data Protection Regulation and the Danish Research Misconduct Act. In addition, there may be specific guidelines and instructions regarding research data management stated by fund providers, cooperating partners etc.

1.4. Faculties, departments, PHD schools, research groups etc. may introduce additional policies, rules, procedures and instructions on the implementation of the policy to local practice, if necessary.


2.1. Managers at all levels, cf. Rector’s scheme of delegation (particularly heads of departments, PHD school managers, and directors of research) must ensure that researchers under their management are instructed in correct research data management. It must be ensured that researchers act in accordance with this policy and any other policies and instructions.

2.2. All persons covered by section 1.1 will handle research data in accordance with the University's policy.

2.3. Cases of questionable research practice, which are related to research data management, follow Aalborg University’s Practice Committee or the procedures of other national bodies. Security incidents follow procedures established by the Information Security Committee, the Head of Information Security, and/or the Data Protection Officer (DPO) at Aalborg University.

2.4. To the extent that it is possible, rights to research data, and the process of changing research data, should be clarified prior to project launch between the parties involved in the research project agreement. Questions and/or changes follow the common decision-making structure at Aalborg University, unless legislation and/or contractual conditions state otherwise. Research data agreements follow University procedures, including the rector’s scheme of delegation.

2.5. The University will provide access to infrastructure for research data management throughout its entire life cycle, to the fullest extent possible, including the possibility for collaboration with external parties. These facilities will support good data practices and provide a general overview of research data, including possible publication. Furthermore, Aalborg University’s support units will ensure guidance, supervision, support and instruction related to research data management, including data relevant assistance on research applications.

3.Planning of research projects

3.1. Planning how to manage research data is an integral and essential part of the research process. Research projects, and other activities that include collection of data, should draw up at least one data management plan, or other type of documentation for handling of research data. This document is a dynamic document that reflects how research data are currently managed. The document is updated on a regular basis — e.g. when there are significant changes. Special emphasis is placed on projects that may involve a risk for Aalborg University in terms of economy and/or reputation.

3.2. Documentation for research data management must be versioned and stored along with other project documentation for a period of minimum five years after the project’s conclusion - this also holds for deleted research data. For some projects, parts of the data management may be addressed explicitly in the project agreement. This, however, does not override the need for separate data documentation.

3.3. Aalborg University ensures that there is at least one template for data management documentation for each faculty. Out of respect for the considerable professional diversity at Aalborg University, these templates can be adapted to local scientific practice, and CLAAUDIA’s support unit for data management supports the development of templates. The templates are made available to all researchers at Aalborg University.

3.4. The researcher in charge is responsible for compliance with any obligation to notify and similar to ethics committees, supervision, archives etc., unless otherwise stated by law etc. Aalborg University assists these processes with infrastructure, advice, guidance and support.

4.Managing active research data

4.1. Research data are stored, managed, and documented, to ensure quality and integrity. This takes place with particular focus on the ability to assess, evaluate, and reproduce research results. This should be seen in the context of whatever other documentation and research products that form the basis of the results.

4.2. Good data practice includes safeguarding the integrity, accessibility, and possible confidentiality of research data. This applies, in particular, to legal and contractual conditions.

4.3. The management of research data takes place in accordance with the intentions of the FAIR principles that aim to make research data retrievable, (F: Findable), reachable (A: Accessible), interpretable (I: Interoperable) and possible to reuse (R: Reusable) – hence FAIR. The FAIR principles always take the assurance of the necessity of data confidentiality into account. FAIR thinking applies to the entire research process, including choice of scientific method, data formats, documentation etc.

4.4. It is the head of research who decides which research data in a project that must be saved, and which that can be deleted/omitted, unless otherwise stipulated by legislation or other obligations. This is based on an assessment within the individual scientific field, the value of the research data, and the principles of the Danish Code of Honesty, Transparency and Accountability. There is also an assessment of whether the research data can be of value to other researchers, authorities, or the public, even if it is outside the area of research in which they were created.

5.Archiving and publishing

5.1. Research data are stored in appropriate archives in accordance with academic traditions for a minimum of five years after publication or announcement of research results, which are based on the research data in question. Legislation and/or contractual obligations can prevent such storage, but it should be implemented.

5.2. Research data are stored and sufficiently documented in accordance with the intentions of the FAIR principles and The Danish Code of Integrity in Research, 2014. The researcher and those persons who manage the systems in which research data are stored, ensure that the research data can be managed in the selected storage systems - even in the event that the researcher leaves the University.

5.3. The researcher must ensure compliance with existing Danish legislation regarding duty of record-keeping, which is facilitated by Aalborg University’s support units. Foreign collaborative partners may be subject to record-keeping duties in their respective countries, which may affect data management practices on the research project in question.

5.4. Most research data are publicly available, to the extent it is possible, via data portals (repositories) or similar, and comply with the intentions of the FAIR principles. However, this may be prevented by legal, contractual, competitive, or patent issues, which may damage the news value of the research.

5.5. The transfer of rights to research data - e.g. in connection with archiving or publishing - should be limited to the greatest extent possible, if it prevents the researcher and/or the University from using the research data in the future.

Origin, background and history

This policy has been drawn up at the request of AAU’s Executive Management in the autumn of 2018. It has been drawn up by CLAAUDIA's Steering Group under the direction of the head of the Steering Group.

Purpose and delimitation

The policy clarifies expectations for research data management at Aalborg University. This is to ensure that the university, in the future, continues to enjoy international recognition for excellent and solution-oriented research that leads to outstanding results. To support this, the university complies with the principles of honesty, transparency, and accountability as stated in the Danish Code of Integrity in Research, 2014. Furthermore, this includes compliance with any other ethical norms, claims of fund providers, confidentiality and privacy, contractual conditions, as well as any other requirements stated in Danish or international law.

Good research data management will also ensure that the individual researcher can use the full potential of data and contribute to the dissemination of knowledge to the surrounding world.

Overall framework

Research data management is highly complex and as such, it is not possible to point to all existing rules. However, a number of important laws are listed below:

  • The Archives Act
  • The Penal Code
  • The Public Administration Act
  • The Danish University Act
  • The General Data Protection Regulation, the Data Protection Law
  • Announcements from the Danish Data Protection Agency
  • The Danish Research Misconduct Act
  • The Danish Health Act
  • The Copyright Act, and possibly other agreements (e.g. Copydan, licensing agreements with publishers etc.)

AAU internal

Contact and responsibility

This policy is drawn up by the Steering Committee of CLAAUDIA, and is subsequently adopted by the Strategic Council for Research and Innovation (SRFI) and the Executive Management at Aalborg University.

The individual departments are responsible for the implementation of the policy. CLAAUDIA’s data management support unit, and other support units at the University, support preparation of documents on data management. Associate Deans of research oversee the policy for departments located under their respective faculties.

Concept definitions

Active research data: Research data that are produced and/or included in the current research process.

Research data management: Includes all processes regarding working with research data - e.g. data collection, recycling, analysis, anonymization, pseudonymization, publishing, archiving, deleting, etc.

FAIR: Principles for (meta)data are: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. The policy follows the overall intentions of the FAIR principles, and must be adapted to each individual research area. FAIR is originally defined in https://doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2016.18

Data Management Plan (DMP): A data management plan is a structured document (that in the long term can be machine readable) based on a template provided by the university, funder, or other, and describes data management practice according to a number of themes e.g. security, ethics, reproducibility etc. A data management plan is not the same as the impact assessment that is carried out in connection with certain projects containing personal data.

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