All Harvard Medical School Faculty, students, researchers, staff and collaborators have an obligation to manage, store and protect research data and research materials and the intellectual property and information incorporated therein.

Researchers must be mindful of where their data is stored, who has access to their data, and who is authorized to use, copy or remove data from the lab and university-controlled servers.  The University and HMS have developed many programs, policies and resources to assist and guide researchers in protecting data.

Data Security

Harvard University is committed to protecting the information that is critical to teaching, research, and the University’s many varied activities, our business operation, and the communities we support, including students, faculty, staff members, and the public.

Everyone at Harvard has a responsibility for proper handling and protection of confidential information as set out in the Information Security Policy and accompanying Policy Statements. These policies apply to the entire Harvard community including faculty, staff, and students.

The research setting poses particular information security risks and challenges, including regulatory and contractual constraints that require additional policy provisions and protective measures. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research has established a complementary policy to address specific research data security requirements at Harvard. Harvard's Data Safety system supports the submission, review and implementation of research data management plans.

In support of research data management and data management plan review, Harvard researchers can submit and maintain the following items through a new on-line Data Safety system to request review of data management plans, communicate with reviewers and select Harvard resource teams, and maintain details about use of data, including project / data access team members.

Data Management & Retention

The University supports robust data management and documentation practices that ensures long term-access to and re-use of Harvard research data. Good data management practices are key to ensuring the integrity, reproducibility and replicability of research. The Harvard Longwood Medical Area Research Data Management Working Group, Countway Library Research Data Management Services and Countway Archives and Records Management Program provide tools, education, support and guidance to HMS researchers and labs.  

Researchers are reminded that the University and sponsors require that data be stored and retained consistent with sponsor terms and with the University’s minimum records retention and storage requirements set forth in the Retention and Maintenance of Research Records and Data Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs").    


Harvard Research Data Ownership Policy

Harvard Research Data Security Policy

Harvard’s Data Safety System (access)

Harvard’s Data Safety System (information)

Harvard Information Security Policy

Harvard University Department of Information Security

Data Safety system support site

Data Safety system

Countway Research Data Management resources

Countway Archives and Records Management Program

HMS Data Management Working Group

Harvard University Data Management Policies

Research Records Storage and Retention

OVPR Retention and Maintenance of Research Records and Data Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs")

Harvard University Intellectual Property Policy