Research Data Management
From June to September 2018, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (the agencies) held an online consultation on the draft Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy.
The agencies received 130 submissions from a broad range of stakeholders, including universities, colleges and polytechnics; libraries; government agencies and departments; organizations that raise awareness and build supports for research data management; and academic associations and individual researchers from across health, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities research disciplines.
Overall, the consultation revealed strong support for the underlying principle of the policy—that research data collected through the use of public funds should be responsibly managed and, where appropriate, available for reuse by others. Feedback and questions were clustered around the following six themes:
- Policy objectives, scope and implementation timeline
- Research data management in the context of Indigenous research
- Institutional strategies
- Data management plans
- Data deposit
- Monitoring and compliance
The agencies wish to thank everyone who responded to the consultation.
Over the coming months, the agencies will continue to develop the policy and implementation plans in light of stakeholder feedback. The agencies plan to release the final version of the policy in early 2020, with phased-in implementation that aligns with the state of readiness of the Canadian research community.
The three federal research funding agencies—CIHR, NSERC SSHRC—have developed a draft Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy to support Canadian research excellence by fostering sound digital data management and data stewardship practices. The policy includes suggested requirements related to institutional data management strategies, researcher data management plans and data deposit.
The draft policy is aligned with the Tri-Agency Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (2014) and the data deposit requirement in the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (2015). It builds on the Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management (2016), Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada (2013), and advice received through stakeholder engagement.
Although some services and supports for data management have been created in recent years, the agencies acknowledge there are still significant gaps. Once implemented, the policy will:
Support incremental changes and capacity building for effective data management within the Canadian research enterprise and
Recognize the different contexts and capacities for research data management that exist across the country and within disciplinary communities.
Why is Data Management Important?
Research data management supports the effective and responsible conduct of research and increases the ability to store, find and reuse research data. A strong culture of data management will serve Canadian research excellence, support discovery and fuel innovation. It will also benefit Canadian researchers who are working in international partnerships and collaborations, as other funders around the globe are implementing and strengthening their data management requirements.
Recognizing this, the agencies are committed to fostering a robust environment for data management in Canada and internationally, and to ensuring that Canadian researchers are well positioned to contribute to, and capitalize on, data-intensive science and scholarship. To support these commitments, the agencies expect the researchers they fund to manage their research data with the goal of maximizing benefits for the research community and the Canadian public.
Feedback on the Policy
Following a year of engagement with the research community, in June 2018 the agencies invited institutions, associations, organizations and individuals to comment on the draft policy and its usefulness in advancing data management practices in Canada. While all feedback was welcomed, the agencies were specifically interested in comments on:
- The impact of the suggested requirements (in section 3) for researchers, research communities and research institutions;
- The ability of institutions and researchers to comply with those requirements;
- The extent to which researchers and disciplinary communities are adopting data management best practices, including the use of data management plans;
- The extent to which institutions are developing data management strategies, and what they have learned in doing so; and
- The ideal timeline for implementing the policy.
The agencies also welcomed feedback on the implications of this policy for Indigenous research and knowledge sharing.
The agencies have also developed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) resource to advance common understandings of data, research data and research data management; provide background on tri-agency research data management policy development; and give guidance on complying with the proposed requirements and links to supporting resources.
The agencies invited feedback on the FAQs , and specifically welcomed comments on:
- The clarity and accuracy of the definitions in section 1;
- The usefulness of the guidance in section 3; and
- Whether any additional questions and resources should be included.
The consultation closed on September 30, 2018.
The agencies will review and consider all consultation feedback as they develop the final policy text and implementation timeline. They plan to implement the policy incrementally, as determined through ongoing engagement with the research community and in step with the continuing development of research data practices and capacity in Canada and internationally.
For more information, the agencies can be reached through the following email addresses:
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