This Toolkit will help you to determine your research data management needs and create a data management plan that documents how data will be managed during the research process and after the project is completed.
The appropriate management of research data means that you will:
Research Data is "data generated throughout and beyond the research life-cycle. Data that are in the form of facts, observations, images, computer program results, recordings, measurements or experiences on which an argument, theory, test, hypothesis or another research output is based. Data may be numerical, descriptive, visual or tactile. Data may be raw, or analysed, experimental or observational and may be held in any format or media. Data include records that are necessary for the reconstruction and evaluation of reported results of research and the events and processes leading to those results."
The University's Research Data Management Policy is effective 13 September 2017.
The Policy forms part of the University's governance framework for research data management and outlines responsibilities with respect to storage, retention, accessibility for use and reuse, and/or disposal of the University Research Data.
The main points are:
1. Research data management must be consistent with:
2. To optimise research outcomes, research data must be:
3. Ownership of research data must be determined based on existing University policies, procedures and agreements
The Policy must be read in conjunction with other related University polices:
In Australia, the Australian Research Council and the NHMRC both have requirements for data management and planning to be addressed as part of their application process and funding rules for research projects.
The Australian Research Council policy statement on research data management and funding guidelines each include a section on managing research data.
The NHMRC supports the sharing of outputs from NHRMC funded research including publications and data. The NHMRC is a signatory to the Wellcome Trust's joint statement on Sharing research data to improve public health.
A Research Data Management Plan is a document that describes how you will collect, organise, manage, store, secure, back up, preserve and share your data during and beyond the project life cycle. It deals with matters such as retention and disposal, archiving, accessing, sharing or publishing the data, and conditions or restrictions for data reuse.
A Research Data Management Plan allows you to document your strategy for managing your research data. It reflects your data management decisions and can also be used to record questions and items for action. It is a living document and can be updated as your project develops and your data management strategy is refined.
You can use the ACU RDM Planning Template Brief (DOC, 106KB) to develop your Research Data Management Plan.
Consider the questions below when developing the research data management plan for your research project.
Providing a description of the data your project will capture, create or use will help you and subsequent users understand why and how the data was created.The choice of format for your data will affect the lifespan of the data, and will determine how that data may be used, analysed, backed up, stored and potentially re-used in the future:
You should save your research data using standard, durable formats that most software can easily interpret (or that can be migrated to a new format easily at a later date), to avoid being unable to use the data, either during the project or in the future.
Ownership and rights issues for research data should be clarified at the very beginning of a research project, as these will affect any future storage, sharing and re-use of the data. Refer to the relevant ACU policies and, if your project is collaborative, discuss and document an agreement with all partners.
Find out more about copyright and data in the Australian Research Data Commons Research Data Rights Management Guide (PDF, 1.3MB):
Providing plans for the storage and management of your data is important for data security and preservation. Providing a plan for the long-term preservation of your data is important in order to meet regulatory requirements for the long-term storage and access to your data.
Data storage for the duration of your project:
Data storage/archiving following project completion:
Consider how the data will be used by yourself and others, both now and in the future, as that will effect the way you manage your data now. Consult the Australian National Data Service's Data sharing considerations for Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) guide and the Publishing and sharing sensitive data guide for more information:
Sensitive data are data that can be used to identify an individual, species, object or location that introduces a risk of discrimination, harm or unwanted attention. The major categories of sensitive data are:
Anonymisation is the process of turning data into a form which does not identify individuals and where identification is not likely to take place. Anonymisation may be needed for ethical reasons,for legal reasons or for commercial reasons. Personal data should not be disclosed from research information, unless a participant has given consent to do so.
Sensitive data that has been anonymised can be openly published and shared. You will need to obtain informed consent from the participants in your study to allow for publication/sharing or their anonymised or de-identified data from the research.
The Australian National Data Service: Safely sharing sensitive data guide outlines best practice for the publication and sharing of sensitive research data in the Australian context. This guide provides straightforward, step-by-step advice about what you need to know and do before publishing and sharing your sensitive data, including:
You should ensure that all research data is stored securely and backed up or copied regularly. It is recommended that you store your research data in storage facilities provided by the University rather than rely on personal, portable storage devices.
At ACU you have a range of digital storage options (for data during the life of the research project):
Contact ACU eResearch Services for more information.
Consideration needs to be given to retaining data at the end of the project. Retention periods for research data may be influenced by a number of factors, such as:
The minimum period for keeping research data is usually 5 years from the completion of the project or the time that the results of the research are published (whichever is later). Different retention periods apply (up to 25 years) to research involving clinical trials, psychological testing or intervention with adults, medical research involving children.
ACU Research Bank is the institutional research repository of Australian Catholic University. You may choose to deposit a copy of your data set in Research Bank or alternatively deposit the metadata about your dataset. Datasets in Research Bank may be available open access or via mediated access. The description of your data is fed to Research Data Australia, a national collection of metadata describing datasets.
Archiving your research data in Research Bank will mean that your data will be:
Contact your Librarian if you would like to deposit your data in ACU Research Bank.