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Data Management for Wits: intellectual property rights and data subject rights and privacy

The following is general advice,data varies hugely between types of research and projects.

"If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold." in this formulationAndrew Lewis orginally on

Basic IP :Intellectual Assets

"IP(Intellectual Assets) deals with creations of the mind, arising from intellectual activity in the scientific, commercial, literary and artistic fields. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) refer to the protection afforded by the law to various forms of IP. IPRs are designed to stimulate innovative and creative activity, to encourage the dissemination of the outcomes of such activity and to promote economic and social development. Innovators and creators are typically rewarded with exclusionary time-limited rights to control how their IP is used, and by whom, allowing them to recoup the investment they made in the development of the IP concerned." ( CSIR (2010). My Meraka: Innovation Handbook. CSIR, Pretoria.) . We like this approach from the CSIR and we think its speak well to academic research.


Protection of Personal infomation Act

The Protection of Personal Information Act applies to research data as well. You have a responsibility to keep your participants, anonymous if that is what your promised or confidential or just private. You need to take reasonable precautions to ensure that your subjects or participants and remember an institution is also a participant,privacy is safeguarded.You might think that this is just the same as's similar but not quite the same. 

POPIA act places much more emphases on the PROCESSING of information. To be ethical and POPIA compliment goes into detail in your consent form about what you will do with the data and who will look at it. In general, the library recommends thinking about and informing your respondents about whoever will see the data. We also recommend thinking about the reuse of the data, and long-term historical preservation. Inform your respondents, if its possible that the data might be reused, blended with another dataset or mined in a different way for a different reason. So for example, life histories can be used to collect the stories of the various women's marches in Pretoria but once collected and transcribed they might be reanalyzed to look at patterns of language and speech. Don't forget, the research team often includes.

  1. Transcribers
  2. Statisticians or any outside analyst
  3. You examiner or examining committee
  4. If you intend to publish, peer reviewers and editors
  5. LIBRARIANS! or archivists
  6. Collaborators from other institutions

Innovation Support / Technology Transfer

Tech transfer office is free to Wits researchers. They help with grants, with patents, with IP which is critical for data management

•"Citation the underlying intellectual property (IP): Identification and assessment of IP, and defining a protection strategy (patents, designs, etc.)
•Statutory and Policy support: We undertake all compliance activities on behalf of the University and advise on improvements to Wits policies pertaining to managing and commercializing IP"

The Innovation Disclosure Form here and on the forms button is a very important part of the Data Management Plan

More than you will ever need to know about IP

University Research Office Legal Services

Sometimes, the resources are not enough. You will need a lawyer. You might not have an innovation but you still need legal help with data. In that case, call the legal office.