Contractual and legal aspects

Contractual and legal aspects

Your research may be affected by, among other things, laws and regulations relating to publicity and confidentiality, copyright, purchases of goods and services and the handling of personal data.

Research agreements

When collaborating with companies or other universities in your research you will come in contact with various forms of  contracts and agreements to regulate the cooperation.

Collaboration agreements in projects

A collaborative project is carried out by several parties jointly and usually a cooperation agreement is signed to regulate the parties’ responsibility, the project’s governance and distribution of any funding in the project.

Contracts for EU-funded projects

For larger collaborations with several parties, such as in EU-funded projects, consortium agreements are signed with all parties to the collaboration.

Non-disclosure agreements

When collaborating with companies, it is common for companies to want participants to sign a non-disclosure agreement.  The reason for this is usually that the companies want the trade secrets that the company wants to be kept secret.

Read more on Inside about various research agreements and contract management at BTH.


Intellectual property rights

The right to intellectual property results (IPR) in externally funded research is regulated in writing in agreements before the research begins.

Knowledge of terms and conditions

Since employed researchers, doctoral students and students who participate in research projects often own the results they create, it is important that they have knowledge of and approve the research terms before carrying out work in projects.


Previous research results, so-called background , that are to be used in new research should, if possible, be identified before the work begins. Ownership of background should not normally be transferred in research agreements, either in collaborative or commissioned research. On the other hand, the owner of the title must grant such access rights as are necessary for others to be able to carry out the agreed work.

It may also be reasonable to give another party a right to use background so that they can use their own results after the end of the project, in which case it should be done for market consideration. However, when granting exclusive access rights to background knowledge, a right to use it for continued research and education must always be secured.

Publication of results

Agreements may not restrict the right to free publication of higher education institutions’ research results. However, some delay may be reasonable in some cases. It should be possible to delay the publication of results by a maximum of one month to allow the other contracting parties to ensure that the publication does not contain information agreed to be secret, and by a further three months to enable the application for intellectual property protection.

Personal information in research

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires transparency in relation to the data subject and that the data subject is informed already at the time of collection about, among other things, the purpose of the processing and what data is to be collected. It is therefore necessary to have formulated a purpose at an early stage and identified which data needs to be used.

Registration of processing

BTH is the data controller for the research projects that have BTH as principal. Each research project must be registered before the processing of personal data begins.

Informed consent

The requirement for informed consent is central to research ethics and the General Data Protection Regulation places additional demands on the form of consent and the information to be included. The information relating to personal data processing must at least include information about who is the data controller, contact details for the person and for the data protection officer, the purpose of the processing and what basis it is based on, who / who will access the data and whether there will be any transfer of the data to countries outside the EU / EEA. It may also be appropriate to indicate the technical and administrative protection measures applied.

Safety in research work

Before a research project that will handle personal data can be started, it must be ensured that there are sufficient safeguards for the personal data, that there is sufficient security and that everyone who processes the personal data does so correctly and legally. These safeguards must also be clearly documented, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Sensitive personal data and ethical review

The starting point for sensitive personal data (such as data concerning racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning a person’s health) is that they are prohibited from use. Under certain conditions, it is still permitted to use this data for research following an approved ethical review application from the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. It is BTH as research principal and personal data controller that has the ultimate responsibility for the research and thus also the person who formally applies for ethical review. However, it is the project’s researchers who are responsible for submitting the application.

Read more on Inside about handling personal information in research