Why research data management?

Canada invests billions of dollars every year, generating huge volumes of data. These data represent an important asset with significant opportunities for re-use if they are managed appropriately. Over the past several year there has been a growing trend towards improving the management and accessibility of research data in Canada and internationally. This trend stems from a growing recognition of the numerous benefits of properly managing research data, such as making research more efficient.

One aspect to creating data with long-lasting utility is to ensure that the accompanying documentation is user-friendly, clear, and comprehensive. Ideally, metadata and documentation should be produced at the start of a research project and enhanced throughout the course of the data life-cycle. Planning and support from data professions at the initial stages of the research project can significantly reduce the time and money needed to provide long-term access.

At Project ARC we are aiming to further develop Canada’s infrastructure and services in support of the management and sharing of research data.

Canadian Research Data Management Policies

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research Open Access Policy: states, “Recognizing that access to research data promotes the advancement of science and further high-quality and ethical investigation, CIHR explored current best practices and standards related to the deposition of publication-related data in openly accessible databases. As a first step, CIHR will now require grant recipients to deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data into the appropriate public database, as already required by most journals, immediately upon publication of research results (e.g., deposition of nucleic acid sequences into GenBank). Please refer to the Annex for examples of research outputs and the corresponding publicly accessible repository or database.” Further, “CIHR now requires grant recipients to retain original data sets arising from CIHR-funded research for a minimum of five years after the end of the grant. This applies to all data, whether published or not. The grant recipient’s institution and research ethics board may have additional policies and practices regarding the preservation, retention, and protection of research data that must be respected.”
  • Heart and Stroke Foundation Open Access to Research Policy: “Additionally, grant recipients are required to deposit bioinformatic, atomic, and molecular coordinate data, as already required by most journals, into the appropriate public database immediately upon publication of research results.”
  • Canadian International Polar Year Data Policy : This 2 year project had a very comprehensive policy on research data which included the following as one of the requirements, “all Canadian IPY data must be archived in their simplest, useful, machine readable form and be accompanied by a complete metadata description. Associated metadata records must include descriptions of Quality control procedures and/or assessment(s) that have been applied to the data.”

Further Reading

  • Stewardship of Research Data in Canada: A Gap Analysis (2008): Produced by the Research Data Strategy Working Group (now Research Data Canada)
  • Preserving Research Data in Canada- The Long Tale of Data (2014): This is a blog authored by Chuck Humphrey, Data Library Coordinator at the University of Alberta and the Academic Director of the Research Data Centre. He is one of Canada’s foremost experts in the area of research data management.

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