Agreements with other parties

If you take part in a project which is a collaboration with more organizations than your higher education institution (HEI), there are a number of areas where you may need to make agreements, for example regarding research data. It may concern a project with researchers from several HEIs, or from different countries. It may also be a collaboration with private corporations, other authorities, or health care institutions.

Before you initiate a project with parties outside of your organization, you should consult with a legal officer in your HEI about a collaboration agreement. You sign that type of agreement in order to make sure that parties involved are aware of and agree on the prerequisites and responsibilities in a number of areas involving the research, data, and results of the project. This is especially important if the parties come from organizations with differing views on, or policies for, copyright and access to materials from the project.

Important issues that have to be clarified right from the start are how research data from the project will be managed and how they can be used. It needs to be clear who will have access to the data material, in its entirety or parts of it, and for which purposes. Are you, as a researcher, guaranteed full access to the project data you need, for as long as you need? If you have to agree on common rules for data management, they should be appended to the agreement, for example as a data management plan.

A collaboration agreement should also contain rules about how the project data and research results may be made accessible in the future. Will someone have ownership of or copyright to the research results – and to the research data? Are there any restrictions on how and by whom they can be used? Is there a risk that you as an individual researcher, or your HEI, may inadvertently be unable to use the data when the project has ended? There may be more areas that need to be agreed on, such as limitation of liability.