WASHINGTON -- University of Utah administrator Jean Nash began to wonder two years ago whether her institution or the individual scientist owns research data generated in the laboratory. As the director of the Utah Resource for Genetic and Epidemiological Research, Nash was trying to develop management guidelines for the burgeoning amounts of information flowing out of her center and its affiliated medical school. But she discovered that, in her words, "there were no university guidelines. And we thought that in the future there was potential for problems."

Little did she know how many others share her concerns. In the wake of heightened efforts nationally to resolve allegations of scientific misconduct, the issue of who should keep the original data in his possession has become a hot topic for university administrators, government officials, and bench scientists alike. Heated debate at two recent meetings suggests that the issue is far from simple,...

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