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Data Management Planning: Data Ownership, Part 4

Who owns your research data—you, the University of Pittsburgh, or the government? Who has the legal rights to your data, and who retains the data after project completion?

Data ownership refers to the rights and control over data as well as data management and use. The rules surrounding ownership depend on who is providing the funding. Grants from philanthropic organizations (e.g., foundations) tend to advance specific causes, and policies on ownership rights will vary. Private funders (e.g., pharmaceutical companies) are interested in profits as well as benefits to society, and typically retain ownership rights for the commercial use of data. Government agencies (e.g., NIH) fund research to improve the general health and welfare of society and provide support in the form of grants and contracts.

With a federally funded grant, researchers are required to conduct the research and submit reports, but control of the data remains with the institution that received the funds, such as the University of Pittsburgh. With a contract, researchers are required to deliver a service or product, which is ultimately controlled by the government. It is important for you to know whether your government-funded research is in the form of a grant or a contract, as this will influence where you can publish and who can use your data.

Your research institution does indeed own your data, but allows you, as the Principal Investigator (PI), to be the data steward, subject to institutional review. The PI controls the research direction, publication, and copyright (unless given to a publisher) and is responsible for data collection, recording, storage, retention, and disposal. Remember that if you have a federally funded grant, your data and lab notebooks belong to the grantee institution—NOT to you, your students, or your fellows. Also, if you leave a grantee institution, you must negotiate to keep both your grants and your data.

So, before undertaking any research, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who owns the data I’m collecting?
  • What rights do I have to publish the data?
  • Does collecting these data impose any obligations on me?

For authoritative sources of information on data ownership, please see:

For other articles in this series about data management, please see:

~ Carrie Iwema

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Director’s Reflections…Do Impact Factors Matter? The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

Barbara EpsteinHow to measure the impact of research publications is a perennial challenge. One of the most common yardsticks is the journal impact factor (JIF), a formula which measures the frequency with which a journal’s hypothetical “average article” was cited in a particular year. Developed about forty years ago by Eugene Garfield and Irving H. Sher, the JIF can be useful in evaluating a journal’s relative importance as compared with other publications in the same field. Through the years, many academic institutions have come to use JIF to evaluate individual faculty and researchers, though it was clearly designated to measure overall journal quality, rather than the impact of individual articles in a particular journal. Critics have identified many weaknesses, including editorial manipulation, human error and variations among scientific disciplines.1

Last month, a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals, brought together by the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), jointly issued a set of recommendations—known as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)—to improve how scientific research output is assessed by funding agencies, academic institutions and the public. DORA’s original signers included 155 individuals and 82 organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ASCB, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Wellcome Trust. At the time this article was written, the list of signers has grown to 7,715 individuals and 289 organizations.

Though recognizing that peer-reviewed research papers are likely to remain the central research output for the foreseeable future, DORA acknowledges that the importance of other types of research outputs, such as datasets, reagents, and software, will likely grow in the future. The recommendations, aimed at funding agencies, academic institutions, journals, organizations that supply metrics, and individual researchers, have a number of common themes, including:

  • The need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations.
  • The need to assess research on its own merits than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published.
  • The need to capitalize on the opportunities provided by online publication.2

DORA has its own Web site, hosted by ASCB, with the text of the declaration, list of signers, and a growing list of articles and editorials commenting on DORA. Time will tell whether DORA itself will have an impact on how research is assessed.

1. Weiss, P. “Academic Career Confidential: The Truth about Journal Impact Factors.” HSLS Update 11 no. 6, (December 2006): 4-5.

2. “DORA: San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.” American Society for Cell Biology, (cited on June 17, 2013).

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Public Access, Open Access: Outlining the Key Differences

This article was adapted with permission from “Public Access, Open Access: Outlining the Key Differences,” by Tierney Lyons and Donna S. Gibson, MLA Scholarly Communications Committee, MLA News, March 2013.

Open Access logoFor health care and academic administrators facing ongoing financial challenges, the open access (OA) initiative and mandates for free public access to scholarly literature will continue to gain importance. Librarians play a role in explaining the difference between public access and OA. Continue reading

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Year at a Glance: What has the Regional Medical Library Been Up To?

Renae BargerHSLS just wrapped up its second year of a five-year contract from the National Library of Medicine to serve as the regional medical library for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NN/LM MAR), which includes Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. As one of eight regional medical libraries in the country, our role is to support the efforts of the National Library of Medicine in this region to provide all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improve the public’s access to information so they can make informed decisions about their health.

We accomplish this through a free membership program open to any library, information center, or other organization that provides health information to health professionals or the public. Our members consist of hospital, academic, public and school libraries; community health centers; public health departments; and community-based and faith-based organizations. This year we welcomed 80 new members, raising our membership to nearly 900 institutions. Individuals at member institutions reap the benefits of our in-person and online training on the many reliable health information resources produced by the National Library of Medicine. These resources cover topics such as biomedical literature, clinical trials, chemical and drug information, genetics, environmental health and toxicology, disaster information, consumer health, and science and health education for K-12.

In our second year, NN/LM MAR staff provided training to over 6,000 librarians, health professionals, public health workers, staff at community-based organizations, K-12 school personnel, and the general public through:

  • 67 site visits made to member institutions
  • 89 scheduled training sessions or presentations
  • 693 resource demonstrations while exhibiting at three national and 33 state or local conferences attended by health professionals and consumer groups
  • 10 workshops or CEs offered at state or local conferences

Another way we support the efforts of the National Library of Medicine is to provide funding to our member institutions to support projects that improve access to quality health information, particularly the freely available, reliable resources produced by the National Library of Medicine. This year NN/LM MAR awarded over $450,000 to fund projects to support technology improvement for health information access, outreach to health professionals and consumers, emergency preparedness readiness, MedlinePlus Connect, the Value of Libraries Study, and a group licensing initiative for hospital libraries. NN/LM MAR funding provided support for subcontractors to:

  • Offer 132 trainings and 46 exhibit opportunities to educate and promote awareness of NLM resources to 2,806 health professionals and consumer groups
  • Purchase technology to promote evidence-based health information and offer new or improved reference services
  • Attend or host professional development events and CEs to expand knowledge and experience; and to provide improved health information access and/or services to healthcare researchers, providers and consumers

Congratulations to HSLS and the NN/LM MAR staff for a successful year. If you know of a group of health professionals or other organization providing health information services that would benefit from NN/LM MAR training and funding opportunities, encourage them to become a member or contact us for more information. Membership is free; this is your government tax dollars at work!

~ Renae Barger, Executive Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region

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NIH Releases Dietary Supplement Label Database

The newly released Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) provides access to the product information listed on the labels of approximately 17,000 dietary supplements. The database is the result of collaboration between the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Library of Medicine’s Office of Specialized Information Services.

DSLD is designed for researchers, health care providers, the general public, and anyone else interested in seeing the full dietary supplement label for products that are currently on the U.S. market and those that have been discontinued or are no longer on the U.S. market.

All information in the database is obtained from the manufacturers’ labels. At the bottom of each page of the database there’s a disclaimer that reads: “All information contained in the Dietary Supplement Label Database comes from dietary supplement labels. The dietary supplement label may not have met the then current nor meet current U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The presentation of dietary supplement label information is not an endorsement or guarantee of accuracy by the Office of Dietary Supplements or the National Library of Medicine, both part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.”

Database features:

  • Use the quick search feature to search any label information
  • Browse an alphabetic list of dietary ingredients and their corresponding products
  • Browse an alphabetic list of products by product name
  • Browse an alphabetic list of contacts, such as manufacturers and distributors
  • Use the advanced search feature to focus a search on any label information

Other helpful tools include a Unit Conversion table, a Daily Value table (provides information on Percent Daily Value or DV), Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), and definitions. Also included are frequently asked questions about dietary supplements, a list of reference sources (information on Web sites related to DSLD), and a help section.

DSLD data are available for download as comma-separated value (CSV) files and may be opened in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel or by most standard statistical packages (see the Help section).


*Parts of this article were reprinted from the National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Supplement Label Database Web site.

~ Jill Foust

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HSLS Staff News

The HSLS Staff News section includes recent HSLS presentations, publications, staff changes, staff promotions, degrees earned, etc.


Jonathon Erlen, history of medicine librarian, published, “Dissertations Recently Completed in Related Fields,” in Journal of the History of Sexuality, 22(2): 369-370, 2013; “Dissertation/Theses,” in the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, 30(1): 239, 2013; and along with co-author Megan Conway published, “Disability Studies: Disabilities Abstracts,” in The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal, 8(4): 74-75, 2013.

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July Classes

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, bibliographic management, molecular biology and genetics, and library orientations. For more information, visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in Classroom 1 and on the upper floor of the library in Classroom 2. All classes are open to faculty, staff and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows.

No registration is required for any of these classes. Seating for classes is first-come, first-served, until the class is full. Classes marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for American Medical Association Category 2 continuing education credit.

Class schedules are subject to change. Please consult the online class calendar for the most current information.

Faculty, staff and students of the schools of the health sciences will need a valid Pitt ID or e-mail account to attend these classes. UPMC residents/fellows will need to show their UPMC IDs.



Introduction to HSLS Resources and Services at Falk Library
(Meet inside entrance to Library)
Offered upon request to groups or individuals. Call 412-648-8866.



Painless PubMed* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Monday, July 1 11 a.m.-noon
Tuesday, July 9 9-10 am.
Friday, July 19 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 24 1-2 p.m.
Wednesday, July 31 9-10 a.m.

Focus on Behavioral Medicine: Searching in PsycINFO* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Wednesday, July 17 9-10:30 a.m.



Adobe Photoshop (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Monday, July 8 12:30-2:30 p.m.

EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, July 9 10 a.m.-noon

Prezi for Presentations (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, July 30 12:30-2:30 p.m.



Customized classes can be developed for your department, course, or other group.



FlashClass is a “deal of the week” Groupon-like offer of timely and useful learning. Each week’s offer proposes one or two topics, and you’re invited to sign up to attend a one-hour class the following week. If at least three people sign up, we’ll hold the class. (We’ll notify you either way.)