Data Use Agreements

Data Use Agreements (DUAs)

Data Use Agreements (DUAs) govern access to and treatment of data: (i) provided by an outside organization to Harvard for use in Harvard research, or (ii) provided by Harvard to an outside organization for use in its research.  The following Office for Sponsored Programs (OSP) and Office of Research Administration (ORA) offices are the authorized DUA signatories for Harvard and help facilitate the entire DUA process while keeping Harvard researchers’ interests protected.

For University Area schools:

For T.H. Chan School of Public Health:

For Harvard Medical School:

Incoming Data

When obtaining data from any third party (including dbGaP and ICPRS), the receiving Harvard researcher should follow the steps outlined here:

  1. Login with your Harvard credentials to access, complete, and submit the online form available here: 
    1. To help reduce additional questions/correspondence during the review of this DUA request, and before completing this form, please note that the questionnaire gathers information about:
      1. The draft DUA or any other agreements/documents related to this request
      2. IRB or IT security review or approvals associated with the project, if available
      3. Basic intent and duration of the project
      4. Source and content of the data being requested
      5. Data provider (including contact information)
      6. How data will be received
      7. Who is working with the data (e.g., the PI, faculty sponsor, or any non-Harvard individuals accessing data at Harvard)
      8. Funding for the project and/or costs for obtaining or accessing the data
  2. OSP/ORA will review the submission and, if necessary, negotiate with the Data Provider on the researcher’s behalf.  The negotiation of the agreement with the Data Provider may require further input from the researcher and other Harvard offices, such as the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Harvard University Information Security (HUIT Security), or School Security Officer. OSP/ORA will facilitate those communications.
  3. When the review/negotiation is complete, the agreement will be signed by the third party and Harvard OSP/ORA.  A copy of the agreement will be stored in Harvard’s electronic archive and a copy provided to the researcher. 
  4.  OSP/ORA will also help identify any additional special requirements that must be completed prior to accessing the data, such as acknowledgement forms that must be signed by each individual data user.

Outgoing Data

When providing Harvard data to a third party, the sending party should follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Please contact OSP or ORA at one of the dedicated data use agreement email addresses listed above.
  2. OSP/ORA will review/create and negotiate an appropriate agreement with the Data Requestor.
  3. When the agreement has been finalized, OSP/ORA will obtain signatures and store a copy of the agreement in Harvard’s electronic archives.
  4. You will receive a PDF copy of the fully signed agreement for your records and may proceed with the sharing or transfer of data.


COMING SOON: Agreements-DUA system coming in early December 2018!

As part of a larger initiative to improve transparency of research compliance processes, Harvard will soon have a tool for submission, review, and management of Data Use Agreements (DUAs). Researchers that share data between organizations can use the system as one place to:

  • Request a DUA review;
  • Correspond with the DUA reviewer;
  • Track the status of review; and
  • Manage active DUAs (including extension requests).

Please visit our Agreements-DUA support site to:

  • Register for informational drop-in training sessions in your area (starting the first week of November);
  • View system guidance materials; and
  • Plan for the date of system availability in your area.


The Agreements-DUA support site will be updated regularly. Please visit often for updated information on these topics (and more!).


Last Updated: 2018-11-05