UMBS Data Management Policy


The University of Michigan Biological Station (the Biological Station), founded in 1909, is dedicated to education and research in field biology and related environmental sciences. The history and status of the Biological Station as a leader in these fields creates an obligation to preserve data describing the ecosystems of Northern Michigan while fostering the development of knowledge that contributes to an understanding of local and global environmental problems and solutions. By implementing the practices outlined in this policy, the Biological Station hopes to achieve the following:

  • Ensure the long-term (>20 years) value and viability of data sets collected using Biological Station resources through proper metadata documentation and data archiving.

  • Protect the near-term and long-term intellectual property rights of those who originate data at the Biological Station.

  • Facilitate access to Biological Station-related Data Sets in order to create opportunities for the development of unique research questions and collaborations that will further advance environmental research and education.

This policy outlines the principles to which the Biological Station, Data Users, and Data Originators will adhere with respect to data collected during research and teaching hosted by or based at the Biological Station. This document 1) defines two types of data recognized by the Biological Station, 2) outlines submission requirements for contributed data, 3) describes the treatment of data resulting from Biological Station educational courses and 4) dictates a Data Usage Agreement that details the responsibilities and rights of Data Users. This policy applies to all data collected by current and future courses and research projects that use Biological Station resources (e.g., facilities, properties, lab equipment).

Submission of data collected without Biological Station resources (e.g., collected off-site and without Biological Station equipment or funds) that are pertinent to the goals of the Biological Station and its students and researchers are encouraged. This policy will be applied to such non-Biological Station Data Sets submitted for archiving unless written modifications are approved by the Director and Information Manager.

1. Data Types

 The Biological Station recognizes the following data types:

  • Public Data1,2 refers to data whose disclosure to the general public poses little or no risk to the Data Originator’s liability or right of first-use or to the Biological Stations’ liability, resources, services or individuals.

  • Private/Confidential Data1,2 refers to data whose unauthorized disclosure may have moderate or severe adverse effects on the Data Originator’s liability or right of first-use, or on the Biological Station’s liability, resources, services, or individuals. This is the default classification category and should be assumed when there is no information indicating that data should be classified as public.

2. Definitions

  • Data Set3 – Digital data and its metadata derived from any research activity such as field observations, collections, laboratory analysis, experiments, or the post-processing of existing data and identified by a unique identifier issued by a recognized cataloging authority such as a site, university, agency, or other organization.

  • Data User3 - individual to whom access has been granted to this Data Set, including his or her immediate collaboration sphere, defined here as the institutions, partners, students and staff with whom the Data User collaborates, and with whom access must be granted, in order to fulfill the Data User's intended use of the Data Set.

  • Data Originator3 - individual or institution that produced the Data Set.

3. Data Submission, Classification, and Release

The Data Originator will submit a properly documented copy of any Data Set collected using Biological Station resources to the Information Manager no later than 1 year following the completion of that Data Set.* The Biological Station recognizes that a Data Set may require multiple years to complete. At the time of submission, a Data Set will be classified by the Data Originator as Private/Confidential Data for a time period to be determined by the Data Originator but not to exceed five (5) years. At the end of this time period the Data Set will become Public Data. Data protected under federal or state regulations or due to proprietary, ethical, or privacy considerations will typically be classified as Private/Confidential Data until those statutes or considerations no longer exist. The Biological Station will release Private/Confidential Data only with the Data Originator’s consent. Where disagreements over the release of data arise, either the Data Originator or the Director may seek arbitration from the Executive Committee. Data Originators with Data Sets that require more than three (3) years to complete are strongly encouraged to archive a copy of their Data Set with the Biological Station on an annual basis.

*Failure of the Data Originator to submit an appropriately documented Data Set within the specified timeframe will result in the denial of future use of Biological Station resources at the discretion of the Director and Executive Committee.

4. Metadata

 All Data Sets submitted to the Biological Station must be accompanied by metadata of sufficient quality as to allow Data Users not involved in the formation of the Data Set to use it for scientific purposes. The Information Manager will assist in the development of Data Set metadata. All metadata is considered Public Data unless it contains information protected under federal or state regulations or due to proprietary, ethical, or privacy considerations, in which case it will be considered Private/Confidential Data.

5. Publications and Reports

Three (3) hard copies or an electronic copy (e.g., pdf or doc file format) of all reports, peer-reviewed papers or final manuscripts derived from Data Sets collected using Biological Station resources must be submitted to the Resident Biologist at the time of completion. The Biological Station will maintain these copies as archival records and will not distribute, further copy or provide access to the publications except to authorized users of the Biological Station in facilities or via computers owned and networked by the Biological Station.

6. Biological Station Course Data

 It is the goal of the Biological Station to archive the Data Sets and reports produced by students and faculty participating in Biological Station courses. The Biological Station recognizes the following course-derived data categories:

  • Course Project Data are Data Sets derived by students for the purpose of meeting a project requirement associated with a Biological Station course.

  • Course Exercise Data are Data Sets derived during class exercises such as methods demonstrations. The course faculty instructor is considered to be the Data Originator.

The Biological Station recognizes that the brief time allotted for the development of Course Project Data and Course Exercise Data introduces a high degree of variability in product quality. To account for this, faculty instructors are asked to categorize these Data Sets into one of three tiers:

1. Tier 1 Data

  • Publication quality data, especially if aggregated among years
  • Product is extensible among years
  • Accompanied by complete metadata
  • Receives a high priority for archiving

2.  Tier 2 Data

  • Useful for exploratory analysis by future researchers
  • Product is extensible among years
  • Accompanied by complete metadata
  • Receives a mid-level priority for archiving

 3.  Tier 3 Data

  • Usefulness limited to immediate educational purposes
  • Product is not extensible among years

  • No/insufficient accompanying metadata

  • Not archived at the discretion of the course instructor unless otherwise directed by the Director

Access to Course Project Data and derived reports will be restricted to students and researchers residing at the Biological Station unless an exception is approved by the Director, Resident Biologist or Information Manager. Course Exercise Data will be treated as Private/Confidential Data and will be treated in accordance with Sections 3., 4., and 5., above.

7. Data Use Agreement (DUA)

 The use of Data Sets made available by the University of Michigan Biological Station (the Biological Station) is subject to the following restrictions and qualifications:

  1. The Data User will acknowledge the Data Originator and the Biological Station in any publications, reports, or presentations that use data falling under the auspices of the Biological Station. Where such products result from the use of data secured through the Biological Station, the Data User is strongly urged to consider collaboration and/or co-authorship with the Data Originator as appropriate in conformance with common academic practices for attribution of authorship and recognition of contribution. Data Sets should be cited in the general form: Data Originator, Year Published. Data Set title. Publisher: Data Set Identifier. Date Accessed. For example:

Miller, D., 2010. Water profiles of the Southfishtail Bay Depression in Douglas Lake, Michigan, 1933-1934. Pellston, MI: University of Michigan Biological Station Information Management System: UMBS0001. Accessed on 2008-05-14.

  1. The Data User will provide three (3) hard copies or a Portable Document Format (PDF) version of all published papers and reports derived from Data Sets obtained via the Biological Station to the Data Originator and to the Biological Station Resident Biologist per Section 5., above, within 6 months of publication.

  2. The Data User agrees not to disseminate or re-distribute data supplied by the Biological Station beyond the immediate collaboration.

  3. Products generated by the Data User from Data Sets supplied by the Biological Station may be used by researchers and organizations for research or educational purposes only but not for the generation of income and not in any way that would require provision of license rights to such Data Sets. The Data User agrees to make these products publicly available in a timely manner as provided in the same periods as specified in Section 3., above, for provision of Data Sets to the Biological Station.

  4. The Data User is fully responsible for all errors in analysis and judgment that are derived by the Data User from Data Sets made available by the Biological Station.

  5. Violation of any of the terms of this Data Use Agreement by the Data User will result in the immediate forfeiture of all Data Sets supplied by the Biological Station and the denial of future use of Data Sets archived by the Biological Station.

8. Disclaimer

 While the Biological Station strives to provide data of the highest quality, all data secured from the Biological Station is provided "as is." The Biological Station and the Data Originator are not responsible for errors in or conclusions drawn from the use of Data Sets furnished by the Biological Station.

9. References

 1 University of Michigan Data Administration Guidelines for Institutional Data Resources. Accessed online at on November 5th, 2009.

 2 University of Michigan Data Standard Practice Guide. Institutional Data Resource Management Policy. Number 601.12. Accessed online at on November 5th, 2009.

 3 LTER Network Data Access Policy, Data Access Requirements, and General Data Use Agreement. Accessed online at on November 5th, 2009.