Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy: Frequently Asked Questions

 

March 20, 2020 update: While the physical SFU Libraries are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 measures, we are happy to continue to support you with any research data management questions remotely. Please feel free to contact us by email at data-services@sfu.ca during this time, and we can set up a meeting via video conferencing or telephone.

 

Background

On March 15, 2021, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada launched the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy. The agencies plan to implement the policy incrementally, as determined through ongoing engagement with the research community and other stakeholders, and in step with the continuing development of research data practices and capacity in Canada and internationally.

The policy covers three main sections:

Data management plans (DMPs): By spring, 2022, the agencies will identify the initial set of funding opportunities that will require a DMP for their applications. The agencies will pilot the DMP requirement in targeted funding opportunities before this date.

Institutional strategies: By March 1, 2023, research institutions subject to this requirement must post their research data management strategies and notify the agencies when they have been completed.

Data deposit: After reviewing the institutional strategies and in line with the readiness of the Canadian research community, the agencies will phase in the deposit requirement that requires researchers to share their data "where ethical, cultural, legal and commercial requirements allow". The deposit must be made by time of publication. Since January 1, 2009, recipients of CIHR funding have had to comply with the limited data deposit requirements included in the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. They must continue to comply with these requirements, which are specific to bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data.

Please see the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy FAQ for more information.

What is SFU doing to adhere to the policy?

Simon Fraser University is 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. To this end, research data will be managed according to the principles outlined in the draft SFU Research Data Management principles.

What support is available to me when applying for funding or carrying out my funded research project?

The SFU Library Data Services team is available for consultation and can aid you with putting together a data management plan that can be included in your application for funding. We can consult with you on creating data management plans, cleaning data, keeping your data safe, depositing your data into an appropriate repository, ethical considerations, structuring your data files, and other research data management questions.

What is a data management plan and how do I make one?

A data management plan (DMP) is a living document you draft at the start of your research project describing the data you intend to generate or handle over the life of your project, how you will describe the data you produce, where you will store your data during the active research phase, what ethical considerations are needed in regards to the data, and how you plan to share your data.  Developing a data management plan is a vital part of your research process that helps ensure your research data are accurate, complete, reliable, accessible, and secure both during and after your research.

For certain funding opportunities, the agencies will require data management plans to be submitted to the appropriate agency at the time of application as outlined in the call for proposals; in these cases, the DMPs will be considered in the adjudication process.

The content and length of DMPs depend on the research project but all DMPs should describe:

  • What kind of data will be collected;
  • How data will be collected, documented, formatted, protected, and preserved;
  • How existing datasets will be used and what new data will be created over the course of the research project;
  • Whether and how data will be shared, and;
  • Where data will be deposited;
  • Who is responsible for managing the project's data;
  • Ethical, legal and commercial constraints the data are subject to;
  • Methodological considerations that support or preclude data sharing.

For research conducted by and with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, collectives and organizations, DMPs must be co-developed with these communities, collectives and organizations in accordance with RDM principles or DMP formats they identify as acceptable. DMPs in the context of research by and with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, collectives and organizations, should recognize Indigenous data sovereignty and include options for renegotiation of the DMP.

Tools and resources specifically for developing a data management plan may be found on the SFU Library's Plan how to manage your research data page.

Do I have to share my data?

Grant recipients will be required to deposit into a digital repository where ethical, legal and commercial obligations allow, and in accordance with the FAIR principles and the standards of their disciplines. Deposits should include all digital research data, metadata and code that directly support the research conclusions in journal publications and pre-prints that arise from agency-supported research. Whenever possible, these data, metadata and code should be linked to the publication with a persistent digital identifier. 

Determining what counts as relevant research data, and which data should be preserved, is often highly contextual and should be guided by disciplinary norms. The deposit must be made by time of publication.

Note that since January 1, 2008, recipients of CIHR funding have had to comply with the limited data deposit requirements included in the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (2015). They must continue to comply with these requirements, which are specific to bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data.

Do I have to share sensitive data?

Grant recipients are not required to share their data in all instances. The agencies expect researchers to outline in their DMPs any ethical, legal and commercial constraints the data are subject to as well as methodological considerations that support or preclude data sharing.

For research conducted by and with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, collectives and organizations, these communities, collectives or organizations will guide and ultimately determine how the data are collected, used and preserved, and have the right to repatriate the data. This could result in exceptions to the data deposit requirement.

How can I share my data?

You can share your data by depositing the research data collected as part of a research project into a research data repository. The deposit of research data into appropriate repositories supports ongoing data-retention and, where appropriate, access to the data.

Ideally, data deposits will include accompanying documentation, source code, software, metadata, and any supplementary materials that provide additional information about the data, including the context in which it was collected and used to inform the research project. This additional information facilitates curation, discoverability, accessibility, and reuse of the data.

See the SFU Library's Share data: Research data management page for more information.

What is a data repository?

A data repository is an online collection of research associated with an institution, a discipline, or some other kind of organization. Data repositories provide a place to search for research data to use and also a place to publish your research data at the end of a project. An example is the Federated Research Data Repository.

The choice of repository may be guided by disciplinary expectations and the recipient’s own judgment, but in all cases the repository must ensure safe storage, preservation and curation of the data. The repository should have easily accessible policies describing deposit and user licenses, access control, preservation procedures, storage and backup practices, and sustainability and succession plans.

For more examples of data repositories, please see the SFU Library's Publish your research data page.

Will the data deposit requirement apply to collaborations with non-agency-funded researchers?

The deposit requirement will apply to the digital research data, metadata and code that directly support the research conclusions in journal publications and preprints that arise from agency-supported research, regardless of where the research is conducted or with whom the funded researchers have collaborated.

Agency-funded researchers are encouraged to consider how collaborations with international or other partners could affect their ability to comply with the data deposit requirement of the policy prior to beginning the research project. These types of considerations would be included in a DMP.

I received a grant from the Tri-Agencies before this policy was in place. What does this mean for me?

Researchers are beholden to the policies that were in place at the time of their application. As these policies are phased in, researchers should be aware of what policies and application requirements apply to their specific funding opportunities.

Note that since January 1, 2008, recipients of CIHR funding have had to comply with the limited data deposit requirements included in the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications (2015). They must continue to comply with these requirements, which are specific to bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data. Similarly, SSHRC’s Research Data Archiving Policy (1990) requires that all "research data collected with the use of SSHRC funds must be preserved and made available for use by others within a reasonable period of time." SSHRC considers "a reasonable period" to be within two years of the completion of the research project for which the data was collected.

How else can I get help?

Please feel free to contact the SFU Library's Data Services team by email at data-services@sfu.ca or fill out the consultation form to request a consultation. You can also visit the SFU Library's Research Data Management website to learn more about research data management best practices.