Publishing data

Publishing research materials

The Population Health Research Network (PHRN) considers the dissemination of scientific research findings to serve important public interests including:

  • dissemination of knowledge;
  • freedom of discussion throughout society;
  • openness and transparency; and
  • good stewardship of public resources used to conduct research.

Types of publication

Research findings can be disseminated in a range of different ways including academic journals and books as well as non-refereed publications, such as web pages, and other media such as conference presentations and professional or institutional repositories.

Review requirements

Research projects using linked data often involve a range of different people and organisations including the research participants, data custodians, researchers and research organisations. It is therefore important to ensure that all the relevant people and organisations are aware of any publications and have had the opportunity to review them prior to publication.

Specific requirements for the review of publications prior to publication or restrictions on communication will be outlined in any agreements with data linkage units, data custodians or funding agencies. Researchers should ensure that they are aware of any specific contractual requirements relating to their research project and to honour these. The purpose of sending publications for pre-publication review is usually to ensure that:

  • any privacy/confidentiality requirements are upheld;
  • there has been no misuse of the data; and
  • all organisations involved are aware of the research findings and their possible consequences once made public.

Agreements will usually specify exactly who must be notified of a publication; the length of time to be provided for review and the timeframe in which those reviewing the publication must provide any feedback. The time frames will vary from agreement to agreement. Researchers should check this carefully, particularly if their research project involves multiple agreements.

Principles

The following principles for the dissemination of scientific research findings from the use of the PHRN infrastructure comes from the PHRN Scientific Research Publications Policy.

1. The PHRN supports an environment of honesty, integrity, accuracy and responsibility in the dissemination of the findings of scientific research.
2. Data users using the PHRN infrastructure for scientific research have a responsibility to their colleagues and the wider community to disseminate a full account of their research as broadly as possible. As part of this process, data users are required to:

  • appropriately acknowledge the role of others involved in their scientific research including collaborating researchers and institutions, and funding bodies;

Acknowledgement of the Australian Government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research should be done either by the use of an approved logo or by the following written statement:

'This project is supported by the Population Health Research Network which is a capability of the Australian Government National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and Education Investment Fund Super Science Initiative.'

  • promptly inform those directly impacted by the research, including interested parties, before informing the popular media in order to minimise misunderstanding about scientific research outcomes;
  • take account of any restrictions relating to intellectual property or culturally sensitive data; and
  • ensure that the identity of individuals' whose information is contained in the data sets used in research studies cannot be reasonably ascertained in any publication of research findings.

3. The PHRN Program Office for Data Linkage will maintain an up-to-date register of all scientific research publications involving the PHRN infrastructure.
4. Data users undertaking scientific research involving the PHRN infrastructure are required to provide a lay summary of their study and its findings to the PHRN Program Office for Data Linkage for display on the PHRN website, in accordance with the PHRN Consumer and Community Participation Policy.

Required acknowledgement language

The Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognises the contributions of individuals and organisations, other than the authors, to the work being reported.

Confidentiality, data transfer and research funding agreements often include specific requirements for the inclusion of an acknowledgement in all publications and sometimes the exact wording is specified. Researchers should ensure that these requirements are followed.

In the absence of any specific contractual requirements, the data linkage units and data custodians who contributed to a research project should be included in the acknowledgements. Examples of suggested wording are included below:

The authors wish to thank the staff at the [insert data linkage unit/s] and [insert names of Data Collections involved].

The authors wish to thank the Linkage and Client Services Teams at the [insert data linkage units], in particular [insert names of staff who provided extra help], as well as [insert names of Data Collections/Custodians involved].

Definitions

Data custodian The organisation or agency which is responsible for the collection, use and disclosure of information in that dataset. The data custodian is responsible for contributing to the guidelines and approval processes on the use of the data, including involvement with ethics committees and input to the protocols  surrounding data use.
Jurisdictional Data Linkage Unit The secure data linkage facility that facilitates linkage between data collections pertaining to its own jurisdiction, and between these data collections and research datasets.
Data user A person who uses data in the course of a linkage project. This includes investigators, analysts and others who work for a range of organisations including academic institutions and government organisations.
Identifiable data Data where the identity of a specific individual can reasonably be ascertained.
Scientific research The systematic investigation to establish facts, principles and knowledge that can be shared with the  wider population. For the purposes of this policy this term does not include quality improvement studies.