May students and post-doctoral fellows take research data and materials with them when they leave the University?

Ordinarily, when researchers, including students and postdoctoral fellows, who have been or are involved in sponsored research projects leave Harvard, they may take copies of Research Data and Materials from projects on which they have directly worked, unless the process of copying or division could damage or render unusable the Research Data and Materials or could harm the integrity of an ongoing research project,[1] or unless transfer of copies of the Research Data and Materials is restricted  by the University IP policy or by  an agreement between Harvard and a third party.


[1]  Schools should be cognizant of and examine on a case-by-case basis the special issues associated with certain research projects conducted in a team setting.  For a student or postdoctoral fellow who has worked on or assisted in research projects in such a setting, the Principal Investigators or laboratory directors on whose projects the student or postdoctoral fellow has worked must assess whether allowing that person to remove copies of their own Research Data and Materials would be appropriate, given that those Research Data and Materials might constitute an incomplete record of the entire research.  In these situations, Principal Investigators and laboratory directors should use their best judgment as to what copies of Research Records, if any, may be removed.  In making these determinations, Principal Investigators and laboratory directors should seek to assist the departing student or postdoctoral fellow, but only insofar as this does not compromise the integrity of the overall research project, their own ability to comply with sponsored research terms or conditions, or the various requirements of this policy and other University regulations.

See also: Data Retention