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Ownership, licensing and copyright

Understand who owns research data and which licence is the best fit

This page contains information on ownership, licensing, and copyright



Ownership of research data is something that you and your research group should understand and agree upon in writing at the start of a research project. Ownership affects intellectual property rights, where data can be stored, and how data can be published and shared. Ownership can be unclear if the project involves:

  • both researchers and students
  • external collaborators
  • specifications from funding agencies
  • collaboration or funding from commercial organisations

Ownership of research data can be negotiated as per the University of Sydney (Intellectual Property) Rule 2002 (as amended), however as a general rule ownership of research data is as follows:

University of Sydney Researchers: research data produced while employed by the University of Sydney is owned by the University. The University provides the creator or collector a royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual licence to use the data for research and educational purposes.

University of Sydney Students: research data produced while a student at the University of Sydney is owned by the student. The University maintains the right to assert ownership over research data produced by students.

See the Research Data Management Policy, 2014 for further information.


Licensing and copyright

It is essential that you place a copyright licence on your research data if publishing and sharing data outside of the project. A copyright licence will ensure that data is attributed to you and will also apply some restrictions around how your data can be used and shared in other research. Particular care should be taken if sharing data with commercial enterprises.

The University recommends use of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike Licence 4.0 (CC BY-NC-SA), however some publishers may prefer another licence is used so you may need to check before submitting the data to a publication/repository. Details of other licences can be found on the AusGoal website.

For all copyright and licensing concerns, contact the Library's Copyright and Information Policy team.