Research at HBS

If you are conducting research or collecting information from third parties, there are some steps that you need to follow to ensure that your data is being protected appropriately and that Harvard (and you!) are protected against any liability.

Requirements for Research Projects

All research projects at Harvard University (or any of its schools) must adhere to the following:

  1. All research projects must submit a Data Safety submission.

  2. All members of the research project team must complete Data Safety training.

  3. All devices accessing or storing research data must meet Harvard requirements.

What is a Data Safety Request?

The goal of this process is to help ensure that the sensitivity of the data is well understood as it applies to Harvard Policy and other requirements. Do you have the right set of tools available to you to properly safeguard your data without being unnecessarily onerous?

Access the Data Safety Portal. (The first graphic on the page will lead you right to the portal.)

The Request Process

This process allows you to describe a bit about the data itself, and who will have access to it. You will be asked to provide information about the data you'll be working with. (Where is it coming from? What data points are going to be included?) You'll also be asked for information about the people who will be on the research team and the devices and storage locations that will be used during the research project.

Understanding this information will help us determine the Data Security Level which needs to be applied and what tools are appropriate to protect this data.

Training for Researchers

Harvard Community Members can complete this training through the Harvard Training Portal. The name of the course is “Harvard Research Data Security Training Course (University-Wide) – Harvard Office of the Provost." The PDF for each member’s completion of training can be attached to the protocol in the Edit Protocol section, in section 3 of the Protocol Team members area.

Non-Harvard Researchers: Members of other organizations may supply a PDF certification of completion of their organization's training regarding requirements and guidance covering standard data management practices and sponsored data. If no such training is available at their organization, similar training, such as the Information Privacy Security - Researchers-IPS” CITI training is acceptable.

What Else?

  • If your study involves Human Subject Information, one of Harvard's Institutional Review Boards (IRB) will need to review the study before you begin. You can see more information about IRB Reviews on the Research Compliance page or contact Alma Castro at

  • If your study involves a Data Use Agreement, this will need to be reviewed by an appropriate party. You can see more information about Data Use Agreements on the Research Data Management site or contact Rachel Talentino at