For example: a thesis is proposed by a student at a university and it requires funding for research. They secure private funding. Then for whatever reason, the research project is cancelled and shut down before the results are published. Who now "owns" the left over research data? The researcher? The funding agency? The university?

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    What does the contract with the funding agency say? What does the student's employment contract or university policies say?
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 21:49
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    "Owns" is a tricky concept. Fuzzy at best. "Data" is another fraught concept. And, the answer, if possible to give, would depend on where this occurs. Even copyright law in US can be difficult to interpret for "data".
    – Buffy
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 21:57
  • My best answer would be the lab in which the researcher worked for, since its the one in which they are employed. If the researcher does not work in a university lab, but for the university itself, then it depends on their contract -could be theirs could be the university's. I don't think the case in which the funding source is the owner is very common, perhaps if it's a private company.
    – Al-Amry
    Commented Sep 24, 2022 at 19:01
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    Are you actually interested in legal aspects (implied by the copyright tag), or academic norms? Commented Sep 24, 2022 at 21:40
  • @Azor Ahai - academic norms only thank you. You can't post a question here without a tag and "copyright" was the closest I could think of.
    – NetCentric
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 2:05

1 Answer 1


Usually in the US, the institution retains rights if you conduct the research with their resources; e.g. while receiving a salary. This is different from being paid a stipend, as salaries are considered a wage for a service; a stipend is not. NIH and NSF Fellowships e.g., are likely paid by institutions using a stipend and not salary.

Large institutions typically have a data ownership / intellectual property (IP) page. When in doubt; check with your Vice Provost Office.


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    Thank you and I appreciate you taking the trouble to include the links.
    – NetCentric
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 6:15

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