Legal and ethical issues

Funding bodies often require that data be made openly accessible whenever legally, ethically and technically possible.

It is highly advisable to implement this guiding principle from the very beginning of your research project, as it can be difficult and complicated to obtain publication or exploitation rights afterwards.

Have you ever wondered how to license or protect your research data? What about reusing the research data of others? Perhaps certain rights are already protected. There are cases in which data itself is not protected unless it is part of a data set. Laws protecting confidential information or personal data may also help protect research data.

Please check in detail on a case-by-case basis whether and what rights may exist to your data record or that of another person. 

More information

If you want to publish data or make data openly available, it is important to ensure that you have the rights to do so. Possible publication or reuse of your data should be coordinated with all research partners as soon as possible. You should also consider the possibility of embargo periods.

It may not be entirely clear who owns the data, but it is of great importance. Only the owner is entitled to distribute licenses, even free licenses, for the use of data.

As a rule, the TU Wien holds the exploitation rights to the research results and research data that you produce as a TU Wien employee. In order to be able to grant licences as a data producer, you must obtain the consent of the Head of the Research Unit or Head of the Institute. It is recommended to have this consent confirmed in writing.

Provided that your Head of the Research Unit or your Head of the Institute has agreed to the granting of licences, you as a data producer can grant licences in your own name in accordance with the TU Wien Research Data Management Policy. The right of data producers to grant licences continues to exist after leaving the TU Wien, unless otherwise agreed between the data producer and the TU Wien.

If your data set reaches the level of a work according to the Copyright Act (= original intellectual creation in the fields of literature including scientific art, sound art, fine arts and film art), you also have the right to be named as the author in any case.

In the case of several authors of a work, all authors are in principle jointly entitled to make decisions and appoint a person authorised to represent them. When uploading data to a repository, all persons involved can normally be named as authors.

Software licences are the full responsibility of the individual Institutes.

In the case of contract research, the clients are usually the rights holders. Details can be found in the corresponding contracts, among other things. Please contact the TU Wien Contract Services experts on this topic.

The processing of personal data is carried out in strict compliance with the principles and requirements laid down in the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the DSG (Data Protection Act) and the FOG (Research Organisation Act). Examination of the lawfulness of the processing must always be carried out on a case-by-case basis.

Further information on this topic can be found on the TU Wien Data Protection, opens an external URL in a new window website. Contact persons:


Please heed these policies and codes of conduct of the TU Wien, as well as the experts from the websites of the TU Wien Data Protection Office and Research and Transfer Support Office:

Please consider data related ethical aspects of your research, for example how data are stored and transferred, who has access or can use them, how long the data long will be kept. Make sure you demonstrate awareness of these aspects and plan accordingly. Ethical barriers to making the research data fully or partially accessible include for example those that have the potential to place people (individuals, small groups, minorities), the environment, or even society at risk of harm.

The Service Unit Responsible Research Practices supports researchers and lecturers at TU Wien in questions regarding research ethics and research integrity. 

Please also see the TU Wien Code of Conduct, opens an external URL in a new window.

For more information you can contact: Dr. Marjo Rauhala, Research Ethics Coordinator.

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Please note:

The Center for Research Data Management does not provide legally binding information.

The Research and Transfer Support Office, opens an external URL in a new window supports researchers and research groups at the TU Wien in various research and exploitation activities, e.g. patent and licence management and the design and negotiation of R&D contracts.

If you have any questions regarding data protection or the processing of personal data, please refer to the TU Wien Data Protection, opens an external URL in a new window website.