Example of Problems
The following are some briefly described problems that might arise in the management of research, financial, or administrative data.
- Technical data not recorded properly. This occurs in research programs when the data are not recorded in accordance with the accepted standards of the particular academic field. This is a very serious matter. Should another researcher wish to replicate the research, improper recording of the original research would make any attempt to replicate the work questionable at best. Also, should an allegation of misconduct arise concerning the research, having the data improperly recorded will greatly increase the likelihood that a finding of misconduct will be substantiated.
- Technical data management not supervised by PI. In this situation the principal investigator might inappropriately delegate his/her oversight responsibilities to someone in his/her lab that is insufficiently trained. Another situation might arise if the principal investigator simply does not dedicate the appropriate time and effort to fulfill responsibilities related to proper data management.
- Data not maintained at the institution. This situation could occur in a collaboration in which all data is maintained by one collaborator. It would be particularly problematical if each collaborator is working under a sponsored project in which their institutions are responsible for data management. In other cases, researchers might maintain data in their homes, and this can also present problems of access.
- Financial or administrative data not maintained properly. This basically means that the information is not maintained in sufficient detail, is inaccurately recorded, or not maintained in identifiable files. External auditors or reviewers would find these matters to be a serious breach of exercising appropriate responsibility regarding the proper stewardship of funds..
- Data not stored properly. This could occur with research, financial, and administrative data. Careless storage of the data that could permit its being destroyed or made unusable is a significant matter. In such case, the institution and/or researcher have acted negligently, have not fulfilled their stewardship duties, and have violated sponsor policies as well as the terms of the sponsored agreement.
- Data not held in accordance with retention requirements. As noted previously, it is absolutely essential that those involved with sponsored projects know how long different kinds of data must be retained to satisfy all compliance requirements as well as to offer appropriate support in the event of lawsuits or disputes over intellectual property.
- Data not retained by the institution. This is a major problem that would occur if a researcher leaves the institution and takes the original research data and does not leave a copy at the institution. In the event access is needed, it places the institution in an untenable position since it has not fulfilled its fiduciary responsibility to the sponsor.