Draft SFU Principles for Research Data Management (RDM)

Thank you to members of the SFU community who provided feedback on the Draft Principles. If you were unable to attend either of the Town Halls (April and June 2019), the slide deck used at these events is available. We are still accepting feedback and comments at rdm-principles-feedback@sfu.ca.

The Draft Principles for Research Data Management (RDM)

Simon Fraser University's goal to be Canada's most engaged research university invites us to find ways of sharing the research output and creative work of the University with the wider community. The University is, therefore, committed to making accessible and preserving the products of research with the broadest possible community, including other scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and the public at large.

Research data will be managed to the highest standards throughout the research data lifecycle as part of the University’s commitment to research excellence. The following principles for Research Data Management (RDM) are proposed for SFU with the intent they will inform eventual policies and the acknowledgement that implementation will be gradual.

Scope:  Principles apply to research data that is born digital or readily converted to a digital format, and meet at least one of the following criteria:

a. requires a data management plan as a condition of funding or research agreement

b. data is subject to compliance requirements

c. research data obtained from the SFU Archives Acquisition Mandate*

d. data will have historical significance

e. data is subject to a retention requirement of five years or longer

1. Research data meeting one or more conditions above is appropriate for long-term preservation and must be retained in an appropriate and non-commercial university, regional, national, or international domain repository.

2. The University will provide mechanisms and services for research data management activities across the research lifecycle including: storage, backup, registration, data security, data deposit, long-term preservation of research data for current and future access during and after completion of research projects.

3. The Principal Investigator (PI), or their designate, is responsible for research data management through the development and application of a sound research Data Management (RDM) plan during any research project or program.  Research proposals [from date of adoption] must include RDM plans or protocols that explicitly address data collection, documentation, storage and backup, preservation, sharing and re-use, data management oversight and ethics and legal compliance. RDM plans must also comply with requirements of the University, provincial, and federal research funding agencies.

4. The University will provide training, support, advice and where appropriate, guidelines and templates for RDM plans.

5. Research data associated with human participants must comply with SFU Policy R 20.01 – University Research Ethics Review.

6. Research activities involving Indigenous peoples must acknowledge that Indigenous peoples have control over research data collection processes in their communities, and own and control how the data will be used, stored, and preserved.

7. Research activities involving vulnerable individuals or communities must be sensitive to their situations and be prepared to accommodate requirements such as research data collection processes, and ownership of and control over how the data will be used, stored, and preserved.

8. All data users must comply with SFU Policy R 60.01 – Integrity in Research and Misconduct in Research.

9. PIs and researchers are required to make their research data openly available where ethical, legal, and commercial requirements allow, and in accordance with the standards of their disciplines.

10. The PI, or their designate, is responsible for ensuring access to their research data complies with federal and provincial privacy legislation, and that all data users with access to research data are made aware of these requirements.

11. If research data or other research assets will only be retained at a non-SFU data repository such as a national or domain-specific repository, the PI, or their designate, is responsible for registering metadata, e.g. a DOI or other direct link to the data with the University.

12. PIs and researchers of publicly funded research projects are required to assign an appropriate access license agreement with preference being given to employing a Creative Commons license, to their research data. For research funded by non-public sources, PIs and researchers are strongly encouraged to apply an appropriate access license.

13. PIs and researchers are expected to ensure their data is assigned standard identifiers such as PURLs or DOIs, and affiliated ORCID IDs with their research data.  They are also strongly encouraged to create and enhance the metadata associated with their research data to improve its discoverability.

*The official records of the University, including those created by the Board of Governors, University committees, faculties, departments and administrative offices. Materials documenting the wider University community. These records include the private papers of groups such as the Faculty Association, Student Society, Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), Childcare Society and the personal papers of prominent individual faculty, staff and students. 


Creative Commons License: one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): A name (not a location) for an entity on digital networks. It provides a system for persistent and actionable identification and interoperable exchange of managed information on digital networks. A DOI is a type of Persistent Identifier (PID) issued by the International DOI Foundation. This permanent identifier is associated with a digital object that permits it to be referenced reliably even if its location and metadata undergo change over time.

Mechanism: Logical assembly of components, elements, or parts, and the associated energy and information flows, that enables a machine, process, or system to achieve its intended result.

Persistent Uniform Resource Locator (PURL): This is a URL. However, instead of pointing directly to the location of an Internet resource, a PURL points to an intermediate resolution service. The PURL resolution service associates the PURL with the actual URL and returns that URL to the client.

ORCID ID: A nonproprietary alphanumeric code to uniquely identify scientific and other academic authors and contributors.

Registration: process to ensure that data is assigned an identifier metadata, e.g. DOI, to aid in their search and retrieval.

Research Data: Data that are used as primary sources to support technical or scientific enquiry, research, scholarship, or artistic activity, and that are used as evidence in the research process or are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings and results. All other digital and non-digital content have the potential of becoming research data. Research data may be experimental data, observational data, operational data, third party data, public sector data, monitoring data, processed data or repurposed data.

Research Data Management Plan: A formal statement describing how research data will be managed and documented throughout a research project, and the terms regarding the subsequent deposit of the data with a data repository for long-term management and preservation.