The purpose of this guidance is to set out UWE Bristol's expectations of researchers in relation to the security of research data, and to signpost researchers to relevant specific guidance.

'Research' as used here means research by staff or students at any level.

Research data can be in any form, for example:

  • electronic or hard copy
  • video
  • audio
  • artefacts
  • machine readouts.

All is valuable and must be appropriately protected.


Research data should be classified as either (in accordance with the University's Information Handling Policy):

  • public
  • restricted
  • confidential.

Data definitions

This guidance refers extensively to data which is confidential or restricted, including data which relates to an identifiable living person (personal data).

However, all research data is valuable and should be protected from loss. Care must be taken to appropriately protect the data asset. Some data will also be particularly sensitive, for example:

  • company financial data
  • security sensitive information
  • information which may relate to dual use technology
  • data relating to populations of wild animals.


This guidance sets out UWE Bristol's expectations and the sources of support available.

  • Research data must be securely stored, used and, only where appropriate, shared.
  • Researchers working with:

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Research is defined for the Research Excellence Framework, and by UWE Bristol, as including the following:

  • For the purposes of the Research Excellence Framework, research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared. It includes:
    • Work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors, scholarship.
    • The invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights.
    • The use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction.
    • It also includes research that is published, disseminated or made publicly available in the form of assessable research outputs, and confidential reports.
  • It excludes:
    • Routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques.
    • It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research.

Further information

Please note: this guidance is supplementary to the following:

For specific guidance, please visit the relevant research data security guidance pages below.