Many research institutions have developed research data services in their libraries, often in anticipation of or in response to funder policy. However, policies at the institution level are either not well known or nonexistent.
This study reviewed library data services efforts and institutional data policies of 206 American universities, drawn from the July 2014 Carnegie list of universities with “Very High” or “High” research activity designation. Twenty-four different characteristics relating to university type, library data services, policy type, and policy contents were examined.
The study has uncovered findings surrounding library data services, institutional data policies, and content within the policies.
Overall, there is a general trend toward the development and implementation of data services within the university libraries. Interestingly, just under half of the universities examined had a policy of some sort that either specified or mentioned research data.
Many of these were standalone data policies, while others were intellectual property policies that included research data. When data policies were discoverable, not behind a log in, they focused on the definition of research data, data ownership, data retention, and terms surrounding the separation of a researcher from the institution.
By becoming well versed on research data policies, librarians can provide support for researchers by navigating the policies at their institutions, facilitating the activities needed to comply with the requirements of research funders and publishers. This puts academic libraries in a unique position to provide insight and guidance in the development and revisions of institutional data policies.