Leaving the University

Don’t worry, I’m not actually leaving my job. Rather, I’ve been thinking about what happens to data when a researcher leaves a university.

For how common separation is, it’s often a time during which data gets lost because there usually aren’t rules or structure for how to account for data during this transition. Without proper discussion, it can also be unclear what rights the departing researcher has over the data and if they are allowed to republish with it.

To help with these problems, I got together with my friend and research collaborator Abigail to come up with the Data Departure Checklist. The goal of the checklist is to account for all of the data, decide who gets to keep what data, and set both the individual and the lab they are departing from up for success going forward.

Goben, A., & Briney, K. A. (2023). Data Departure Checklist. https://doi.org/10.7907/h314-4×51

To use the checklist, the departing researcher and a project administrator should sit down and work through all of the items on the list. There are sections for hardware, personal devices, storage systems, data permissions, administrative documentation, manuscripts in progress, administration, and email. The researcher and administrator should both check off that the relevant item has been taken care of appropriately. The goal is to make the departure process more transparent and streamlined.

This is our first draft of the checklist so let us know if you use it and/or think of ways to improve it! We hope this is a useful tool for researchers.