Synapse governance is an essential component of the Synapse platform; it is a system of policies, procedures, and tools for managing and protecting data in Synapse. Our policies define the community norms, user rights, and user responsibilities. Our procedures determine how to and who can contribute, access, and use content. Synapse tools help users operate within Synapse and safeguard content. This comprehensive Synapse governance supports responsible sharing and helps everyone adhere to the relevant privacy and regulatory requirements for using biomedical data.

In Synapse, data contributors control who can access content and under what conditions. For projects that contain sensitive information, the Synapse Access and Compliance Team (ACT) recommends appropriate safeguards depending on the type of data and who can access it. In addition, we can apply certain limitations or conditions for data access based on how the data will be shared.

By using Synapse, you consent to the following governance policies and procedures.

Synapse Code of Conduct

It is our commitment to create a welcoming environment for members of the Synapse community. This Code of Conduct reflects Sage Bionetworks’ core values and is intended to foster a culture of inclusion and respect.

A participant in the Synapse Community:

  • Welcomes others

  • Uses inclusive language

  • Shares knowledge and experience

  • Respects other viewpoints and ideas

  • Shows empathy and kindness when interacting with others

Examples of behavior that do not meet the Code of Conduct include:

  • Insulting or derogatory comments

  • Personal or political attacks

  • Trolling

  • Use of sexualized language or images

  • Sharing private information without permission (e.g. sharing someone’s physical or electronic address)

  • Other conduct reasonably considered inappropriate in a professional setting

Participating in Synapse is a choice. Sage Bionetworks, as the host of Synapse, has the right and responsibility to remove, edit, or reject contributions that are not aligned to this Code of Conduct. Sage Bionetworks may also ban temporarily, or permanently, any person who does not adhere to the Code of Conduct and whose behaviors they deem inappropriate, threatening, offensive, or harmful.

If you see violations of our Code of Conduct, please email act@sagebionetworks.org or click the “Report Violation” button within Synapse. The Synapse Access and Compliance Team (ACT) investigates all reports and decides what to do. We do not hold hearings or allow for appeals. We are committed to protect the confidentiality of victims and of anyone who reports an incident.

This Code of Conduct is adapted from the Contributor Covenant, version 1.4.

Synapse Terms and Conditions of Use

The Synapse Terms and Conditions of Use establish the use, disclaimers, and limitation of liability governing Synapse. By using Synapse, 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 Synapse. For example, it defines Open Access Data and Controlled Access Data. This procedure clarifies the conditions for uploading and downloading data to and from Synapse.

Privacy Policy

The Privacy Policy explains how Sage Bionetworks aims to protect personal information received, used, and disclosed in connection with Synapse from registered users and non-registered visitors. To report violations of the Privacy Policy, contact privacyofficer@sagebionetworks.org.

Becoming a Registered User

Anyone can browse public content in Synapse. You will need to register an account on Synapse to view and/or download all other content. When you register your account, you must agree to the Synapse Terms and Conditions of Use, the Code of Conduct, and Privacy Policy. All registered users must also read and agree to the Synapse Pledge

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. Do 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


Need More Help? Ask a question in the Synapse Help Forum. Your feedback is key to improving our documentation, so contact us if something is unclear or open an issue.