Governance Overview

Synapse Commons Governance Overview

Synapse operates under comprehensive governance policies. These policies delineate Synapse users’ rights and responsibilities. They also specify the rights and responsibilities of Sage Bionetworks and of the Synapse Access and Compliance Team (ACT).

Terms and Conditions of Use

The Synapse Terms and Conditions of Use establishes the use, disclaimers, and limitation of liability governing the use of Synapse. For example, this document states users must adhere to all applicable laws and regulations to protect the privacy of research participants’ data. By using Syanpse, you are agreeing to abide by each of these terms and conditions.

Data Use Procedure

The Synapse Data Use Procedure describes the standard operating procedures for use of data within the Synapse. For example, it defines Open Data and Controlled Data. This policy clarifies the requirements for uploading data to Synapse, for example that human data must be de-identified according to HIPAA standards and all applicable privacy laws and regulations prior to being uploaded to Synapse. This policy also addresses the requirements for using Open Data and Controlled Data on Synapse. For example, to access some data sets Synapse users are required to show proof of review and approval of their data analysis plan by an ethics committee or IRB.

Privacy Policy

The Privacy Policy explains how Sage Bionetworks aims to protect personal information received in connection with Synapse from casual visitors and Registered Users. Personal information may include your name, email, or other information that identifies you personally. We do not require you to register to visit the Synapse website. However, sections of the site and access to some content will be granted only to Registered Users.

Awareness and Ethics Pledge

In order to become a Registered User, you must agree to the terms of the Synapse Awareness and Ethics Pledge. This Pledge echoes many of the themes of the Terms and Conditions of Use, the Data Use Procedure, and Privacy Policy.

Awareness and Ethics Pledge

I commit myself to:

  • Act ethically and responsibly
  • Protect and respect data participant’s privacy and confidentiality
  • Abide by the principles for responsible data use and handling as described in the Synapse Governance Documents
  • Take full responsibility for my use of data, software, and other Synapse content
  • Share content only when I have the authority to do so and sharing does not violate any applicable laws or contracts
  • Not hack Synapse
  • Abide by all applicable laws and regulations

The Synapse Oath (part of the profile validation process) further reinforces these principles.

Oversight, Audits, and Adjudication

The Synapse Access and Compliance Team (ACT) monitors public activities on Synapse through periodic audits to assess compliance with the Synapse governance policies. For example, through these audits, the ACT verifies that public content shared on Synapse has appropriate Conditions for Use. The ACT does not monitor activities or content placed in private Projects. The ACT supports ethical use of Synapse, including adjudicating suspected unauthorized and/or unethical use of data, as well as “unsportsmanlike” behavior within the Synapse research commons. The ACT relies on the community of researchers and research participants for vigilance against unauthorized and/or unethical use of Synapse. Additionally, we rely on the community to hold itself to the highest standard of collegial behavior. People unable or unwilling to meet these standards may be expelled from Synapse. You should not hesitate to get in touch with the ACT (act@synapse.org) if you have questions or suggestions about Synapse governance, including the policies, ethics, or rules for data sharing on Synapse.

It is your responsibility to contact the ACT (act@synapse.org) if:

  • You suspect that data is improperly shared on Synapse
  • You are concerned that data shared on Synapse is improperly or incompletely de-identified
  • You suspect unauthorized use of Synapse data


synapse logo Important: By using Synapse you consent to these Governance policies and procedures.


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