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Guide for Data Use Agreements

Purpose of this guide is to help researchers navigate requirements to acquire data

General Information

It is important to remember that any contract to use restricted data is between you, the data provider, and Penn State University!
In order to complete your application to work with restricted data, the contracts or licenses must be signed by an appropriate department or representative at Penn State.  These departments will need to see all the paperwork required from the provider which may include:
  • Agreement or contract
  • Data management & security plan
  • Research proposal & project plan    
Being well organized will save you time. 
Note: As a rule of thumb, plan for one month to obtain a signature.  More time will be necessary if an item is missing. 

How do you determine which unit is authorized to sign the contract?

In general, Penn State authorization for contracts is dependent upon whether or not there is a payment associated with access to the data and whether or not it is sponsored research.
Option One: If there is NO cost associated with the Data Use Agreement AND the data being requested is either associated with a sponsored research project or to be used for exploratory research .... Contact: OFFICE OF SPONSORED RESEARCH
Option Two: If there is a cost associated with obtaining the data AND it will be paid for using a University Purchase Order ... Contact PURCHASING SERVICES.
Option Three: If there is a cost associated with obtaining the data AND it will be paid for with either a Special Request for Check (SRFC) or Purchasing Card (P-Card) ... Contact: RISK MANAGEMENT.
Option Four: If you are associated with the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and/or Penn State College of Medicine ... Contact: Office of Technology Development   

What to do at each stage of your contract's life-cycle

Applying to work with data from a provider
  • Write project plan
  • Write data management plan in conversation with your Information Technology support
  • Find out if the contract requires IRB approval
Ensuring ongoing compliance with data contract
  • Update data provider...

  • to add/remove a member from your project team
  • to add data (new variables, new year of data that was just released, etc...)
  • to move the location of data
  • Provide annual report to the data agency/sponsor
Ending the contract
  • Secure erasure of all data and extracts according to directives of the contract (work with your IT team)
  • Complete closure forms (according to contract)