The importance of research data management
Research data management (RDM) refers to the processes applied through a research project’s lifecycle that guide the collection, documentation, storage, sharing and preservation of research data.
RDM supports the effective and responsible conduct of research and increases the ability to store, find and reuse research data. A strong RDM culture enhances Canadian research excellence, supports discovery and fuels innovation. It also benefits Canadian researchers who are working in international partnerships and collaborations as other funders around the globe are implementing and strengthening their data management requirements.
Tri-Agency collaboration on research data management
Canada’s federal research funding agencies or the Tri-Agency — 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) — are working together to foster a robust RDM environment in Canada and internationally.
CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC have been collaborating on RDM policy-related work since 2013:
- In fall 2013, they released Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada, a consultation document that sought community input into an RDM policy framework.
- This was followed in 2016 by the Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management, which outlines the agencies’ overarching expectations regarding RDM.
- In 2017, the agencies undertook a year of targeted engagement with key stakeholders to discuss possible RDM policy requirements.
- From June to September 2018, the agencies held an online consultation on a draft version of the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy. The agencies received 130 submissions from a broad range of stakeholders (see the summary report).
- Through 2018-19, and in parallel with the online consultation, the agencies held discussions with Indigenous partners about the draft policy.
- The feedback obtained through targeted engagements and online consultation informed the development of the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy.
Launch of Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy
In March 2021, the Tri-Agency launched the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy to ensure Canadian researchers are well-positioned to contribute to, and capitalize on, data-intensive science and scholarship.
The policy supports Canadian research excellence by fostering sound digital data management and data stewardship practices. It includes requirements related to institutional RDM strategies, data management plans (DMPs), and data deposit. It is aligned with the data deposit requirement in the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (2015), CIHR’s Health Research and Health-Related Data Framework (2017) the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans—TCPS 2 (2018), and the agencies’ Setting new directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada 2019-2022 (2019).
Completed and steps in progress
The agencies are implementing the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy incrementally, as determined through ongoing engagement with the research community and other stakeholders, and in step with continuing development of RDM practices and capacity in Canada and internationally. This includes:
- Published institutional research data management strategies: As of March 1, 2023, research institutions receiving funds from the Tri-Agency are required to post their RDM strategies and share the link with the Tri-Agency so this information can be shared publicly.
- Funding opportunities requiring data management plans (DMPs): The agencies have identified the initial funding opportunities subject to the DMP requirement.
- Data deposit: After reviewing the institutional RDM strategies, and in line with the readiness of the Canadian research community, the agencies will phase in the deposit requirement.
The agencies will continue to work with key stakeholders and partners to develop resources, tools and infrastructure that support the growth of a strong RDM environment in Canada.
For more information, contact: