Records Management

Professional contributions by staff

Policy on records management and professional contributions by staff.

This document is intended for all academic and professional staff in the University.

It sets out the University's understanding of the records management arrangements when members of staff make contributions to their wider profession, for example, by acting on a government advisory body in a personal professional capacity or providing input to their professional body. It does not seek to alter your individual ownership, intellectual property or insurance rights, which remain as stated in the terms and conditions of your employment and in the relevant University policies.

This policy applies to all information you create or receive when you provide input to your wider profession in a capacity that is not a part of your role at the University. It does not apply to information you create or receive in your regular University capacity or as a member of the University.

Policy statement

As an international centre of academic excellence, the University of Edinburgh is, through its staff, a respected source of academic and professional expertise which extends beyond the bounds of research and teaching activity as normally defined.

The participation of members of staff in their wider professional discourse is a key factor in the University's position at the forefront of global knowledge exchange and is highlighted in the institutional Strategic Plan.

The University recognises and encourages contributions by staff to their wider profession and acknowledges the benefits which accrue to the institution, the individual and the field concerned.

For records management purposes, it is important to note the distinction between work you do in a University capacity and work you contribute to your wider field in a personal professional capacity. All information you create or receive when carrying out your role at the University belongs to the University. Information you create or receive when acting in a wider professional capacity separate to your normal University role does not belong to the University, but either to you or the body you contribute to or correspond with.

For example, if you hold a position in your professional body (such as the Institute of Biomedical Science or the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), work you do in this capacity belongs either to you or to the relevant body, as agreed between you and the body concerned. This is because this role, while it may or may not relate to your professional expertise, is not a part of your University position.

This also applies to work you contribute in a personal professional capacity, such as providing input to a government advisory body (the Human Genetics Commission, for example), as an expert in your field rather than a member of the University. Although the University may allow you time to participate in your wider profession or the use of computing facilities to do so, work you do that is outside the scope of your role at the University does not belong to the University.

Conversely, if you hold a position in a group that is associated to your University role (for example, Scottish Heads of Computing) or publish results of research you conduct in your usual capacity, this is considered University information.

Although making contributions to your wider profession may be a tacit or expected part of your employment, it does not mean that the information automatically belongs to the University. The nature of University work means this distinction may not always be immediately obvious; following this policy should enable you to clarify when it does apply and what the implications are for your professional contributions.


The division between work you do in a University capacity and in a wider professional capacity is significant as it helps resolve issues of record ownership and establishes the University's legislative rights and responsibilities for record keeping.

As the information you create or receive in the course of your employment belongs to the University, it falls under the scope of the University's information legislation obligations. This means it is subject to the requirements of data protection law, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Information you create when acting in a wider professional capacity does not belong to the University so therefore does not fall under the scope of its obligations under these pieces of legislation. If it has been agreed that the information belongs to the body you contribute to, you must ensure that it has a record of the information to fulfil its own obligations.

About this guidance

Version control



Edits made


Michael Gallagher

April 2011



Sara Cranston

May 2018

Minor update to reference to DPA 1998