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Research Data Management : Data Sharing: Data licensing

This guide is aimed at assisting researchers in making the choice to share your data, prepare for it and select the appropriate repository to do so.

Ethics and legal compliance involved in data sharing

There are several issues regarding ethics, legal compliance, copyright and Intellectual Property Rights that you should already address at the planning stage of your research project. The list* includes (but is not limited to) the following: defining data ownership,  gaining consent for data sharing, planning for data licensing for reuse, being aware of restrictions on the reuse of third party data, consider postponing/restricting data sharing to publish or seek patents* etc.

KAUST researchers should make sure they consider carefully the "KAUST code for the responsible conduct of research" and the "KAUST Intellectual Property Policy" during the course of their research and before they share their findings. They should also, if needed, seek approval from the KAUST Institutional Biosafety and Bioethics Committee (IBEC). For more "Patent information" please check our Libguide or seek support from the KAUST Technology Management office.

* [DCC. (2013). Checklist for a Data Management Plan. v.4.0. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online:]

Why and how license your data

Licensing your publicly released sets out the terms and conditions for (re)use.  Two common groups of standard, free, international licenses exist for public sharing of data: Creative Commons and Open Data Commons. Whereas copyright issues might be hard to decipher especially across different jurisdictions, licenses make reuse rights clear. 

Summary of the Creative Commons and Open Data commons licenses

License type

Creative Commons license

Open Data Commons license

License description

 Public domain



 Licensed content is in the public domain with no restrictions on reuse




 All forms of reuse allowed so long as you attribute the content creator

 Attribution, share alike



 Reuse allowed with attribution and the use of an equivalent share-alike license on content derived from the original

 Attribution, non- commercial



 Reuse allowed for non-commercial purposes with the requirement of attribution

 Attribution, no derivatives



 Original work cannot be modified during reuse and you must attribute

 Attribution, non-commercial, share alike



 You must provide attribution, reuse the content for non-commercial purposes and place a share-alike license on derivative works

 Attribution,  non-commercial, no derivatives



 You cannot modify the content or use it commercially and you must provide attribution


Table taken from Briney, K (2015). Sharing Data. In Data Management for Researchers:Organize, Maintain and Share you data for Research Success (p159). Exeter:Pelagic Publishing, UK.

Open Data explained simply

Watch this 7mins Process Arts (2012) video to learn "how to open up your data in 8 steps".

Creative commons explained simply

To help you choose a license for your data, Creative Commons streamline the process:

Additional Resources

McGeever, M., Whyte, A. & Molloy, L. (2015). ‘Five Things You Need to Know About Research Data Management and the Law. DCC Checklist on Legal Aspects of RDM’. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online:

Carroll MW (2015) Sharing Research Data and Intellectual Property Law: A Primer. PLoS Biol 13(8): e1002235.

Ball, A. (2014). ‘How to License Research Data’. DCC How-to Guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online:

Data Citation Synthesis Group: Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles. Martone M. (ed.) San Diego CA: FORCE11; 2014 [].

KOrn, N., Oppenheim, C. (2011). Licensing open data: A practical guide. JISC. Retrieved from 

UK Data Archive, Create and manage data: Consent & ethics. Retrieved from

Open Licenses. Project Open Data. The US Federal Government guide to open licenses and dedications.