Research Data Management Institutional Strategy

Executive Summary

In March 2021, the Tri-Agency adopted a policy on research data management (RDM). The policy  requires each post-secondary institution and research hospital eligible to administer Tri-Agency funds to create an institutional RDM strategy, publicly post the strategy and notify the agencies when completed. In response to the release of the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy (2021), Queen’s University has established a working group and created this draft strategy to support researchers and research staff and promote the use of wise and responsible research data management practices.

To support the adoption of our institutional strategy and enhance the use of wise practices in RDM, Queen’s will engage in awareness-raising activities, hire and train staff, promote RDM wise practices, and provide or support access to RDM tools, resources, and infrastructure.

Members of the RDM Implementation Committee seek feedback from the broader Queen’s research community to enhance the strategy and associated implementation activities. 

For more information please visit the RDM at Queen’s website.

Introduction

Well-managed research data is recognized as an international best practice and as contributing to the reach and impact of research. Data management plans (DMPs) and data deposit are also increasingly required for funding applications or journal submissions. In March 2021, the Tri-Agency adopted a policy on RDM. The policy requires each post-secondary institution and research hospital eligible to administer CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC funds to create an institutional RDM strategy and notify the agencies when it has been completed. The strategy must be made publicly available on the institution’s website with appropriate contact information on who is going to administer the strategy.
Queen’s created the Research Data Management Implementation Committee (RDMIC) in Spring 2021 to develop a shared vision for RDM at Queen’s.

The vision is as follows: 

Queen’s goal is to provide a range of clear and accessible tools, technologies, and support services to meet the needs of researchers throughout the research data life cycle. Our research-centered approach means we will promote wise practices around data management planning and data deposit, permitted uses, preservation, and disposal. Our aim is to identify pathways to research data management, to build on areas of strength and expertise, and to improve on tools, technologies and service supports that allow Queen's researchers to enhance research excellence and adapt to the research environment.

Scope

This strategy applies to all Queen’s researchers, including students, staff, and faculty in all disciplines, at the University. Our initial focus will be to ensure that our Tri-Council-funded researchers have the tools, technologies and service supports in place to aid their work and demonstrate wise data management practices as they will lead this transition in RDM best practices.

Oversight and Review

Dr. Betsy Donald, Associate Vice-Principal Research, will oversee the implementation of the strategy. Dr. Donald is supported by a team, including staff in the Vice-Principle (Research) portfolio (VPR) and in partnership with the Implementation Committee (see “Stakeholders” section and Appendix A for membership).

The Implementation Committee will meet quarterly to discuss progress and for an annual review of the strategy, which will be presented to the VPR executive team.

Institutional Support

To support the adoption of our institutional strategy and enhance the use of wise practices in RDM among researchers, Queen’s will engage in awareness-raising activities, hire and train staff, promote RDM wise practices, and provide or support access to RDM tools, resources, and infrastructure. The following practices are part of our institutional support:

University-wide Researcher Town Halls, a communications strategy and a dedicated VPR-based “RDM Resource Hub” webpage.

  • The University has recently hired staff to support institutional excellence in RDM: an RDM Librarian and a project officer; a member of the VPR staff, were hired in 2021; 
  • Queen’s Doctoral Internship in University Administration program;
  • an annual application to the Queen’s SWEP program for one undergraduate summer student intern will be submitted for RDM-specific work, such as facilitating outreach activities. Additional staffing requirements will be evaluated as needed

  • The Resources for Researchers series (R4R) will commit to one RDM-specific session per year (March 2, 2022);
  • Virtual office hours with data management experts will be held for researchers to quickly visit and ask questions;
  • An instructional video series will provide information on RDM wise practices;
  • All RDM resources will be housed on an “RDM Resource Hub” webpage on the VPR website

  • Queen’s University Library and The Centre for Advanced Computing offer secure repository and limited curation service supports, tools and technologies; the DMP Assistant  tool is offered by the Digital Research Alliance of Canada;
  • Tools for discovery and access include Queen’s University Dataverse Collection and the Federated Research Data Repository (FRDR). In terms of Indigenous research-specific resources, researchers have access to the Indigenous Community Research Partnerships  training program, hosted on the website of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives  and consisting of four modules, with a fifth module being designed specifically for Queen’s University’s local context. This online resource is meant to improve ethical partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations in research. The Office of Indigenous Initiatives also provides information and resources on Indigenous research . The annual Indigenous Research Collaboration Day  and the annual Indigenous Knowledge Symposium  provide researchers with unique and rich opportunities on Indigenous research with sessions on data governance. In addition, Queen’s has developed an online resource addressing the integration of EDII in Research. The third module highlights EDII considerations in data management. 

Of note, the RDMIC is submitting an RDM Capacity Building Initiative Connection Grant application to support the development of in-house activities.

Ethical, Legal and Commercial Considerations

The institution supports researchers in adopting and complying with ethical, legal, and commercial obligations through various channels:

Ethics and compliance are housed under the VPR portfolio and includes the University Research Ethics Office. Research projects involving human participants are reviewed by either the General Research Ethics Board or the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board. In addition, the Tri-Agency's Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans - TCPS2 (2018) is a resource for researchers to consider ethical conduct in research involving human participants. Chapter 9 details considerations in research with Indigenous Peoples. Queen’s recognizes that a distinctions-based approach is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests and circumstances of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented (Tri-agency RDM Policy, Government of Canada 2021). The Office of Indigenous Initiatives and the VPR portfolio offer supports for researchers working with Indigenous Peoples and organizations and provide advice in relation to funding and ethics applications that focus on Indigenous-related research. In addition to complying with Tri-Agency best practice and the institution’s research ethics process, Queen’s consults with Indigenous experts to guarantee wise practices in research by and with Indigenous groups, such as the application of the four Rs of Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, and Responsibility (Kirkness & Barnhardt 2001)**.

Research complying with relevant legal and commercial obligations falls under the Partnerships and Innovation unit under the VPR portfolio. The Research Contracts Unit supports researchers with legal advice on the management of data with legal implications. This includes but is not limited to resources for safeguarding research, data sharing and data transfer/access agreements, confidentiality and research agreements.

** Kirkness, V. J. and R. Barnhardt (2001). First Nations and Higher Education: The Four R's - Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility. Knowledge Across Cultures: A Contribution to Dialogue Among Civilizations. R. Hayoe and J. Pan. Hong Kong, Comparative Education Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong.

Resources and Standards

Definitions

‘Confidential Information’ means “knowledge, materials, know-how or any proprietary information, whether in electronic, written, graphic or other tangible form and any such oral information that has been reduced to writing within two weeks of its disclosure” (ArticNet Data Management Policy, ArticNet 2021, 12).

‘Data deposit’ refers to “when the research data collected as part of a research project are transferred to a research data repository. 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. 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” (Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, Frequently Asked Questions, Government of Canada 2021).

A ‘data management plan’ is “a living document, typically associated with an individual research project or program that consists of the practices, processes and strategies that pertain to a set of specified topics related to data management and curation. DMPs should be modified throughout the course of a research project to reflect changes in project design, methods, or other considerations. DMPs guide researchers in articulating their plans for managing data; they do not necessarily compel researchers to manage data differently” (Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, Frequently Asked Questions, Government of Canada 2021).

‘Indigenous research’ is "research in any field or discipline that is conducted by, grounded in or engaged with First Nations, Inuit, Métis or other Indigenous nations, communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present” (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Definition of Terms, Government of Canada 2021).

‘Intellectual Property’ means “all materials, concepts, know-how, formulae, inventions, improvements, industrial designs, processes, patterns, machines, manufactures, compositions of matter, compilations of information, patents and patent applications, copyrights, trade secrets, technology, technical information, software, prototypes and specifications, including any rights to apply for protections under statutory proceedings available for those purposes, provided they are capable of protection at law” (ArticNet Data Management Policy, ArticNet 2021, 12).

A ‘researcher’ can include any individual who worked on the research project that could legitimately claim academic authorship of the research project if the results of the research project were to be published in a scholarly work (Queen’s University RDM Survey, Queen’s University Library 2015).
 

'Research data' are data that are used as primary sources to support technical or scientific enquiry, research, scholarship, or creative practice, and that are used as evidence in the research process and/or are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings and results. Research data may be experimental data, observational data, operational data, third party data, public sector data, monitoring data, processed data, or repurposed data. What is considered relevant research data is often highly contextual, and determining what counts as such should be guided by disciplinary norms.” (Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, Frequently Asked Questions, Government of Canada 2021).

‘Research data management’ is “the storage of, access to and preservation of data produced from one or more investigations, or from a program of research. Research data management practices cover the entire lifecycle of the data, from planning the investigation to conducting it, and from backing up data as it is created and used to preserving data for the long term after the research has concluded. It also includes data-sharing, where applicable” (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Definition of Terms, Government of Canada 2021).

A ‘research project’ can be defined as the research associated with investigating a hypothesis or group of hypotheses (and applicable set of predictions) aimed at answering a distinct or specific research question. A single research grant may support one research project or multiple research projects. In the context of this survey, a research project is associated with a distinct set of research data and is a subset of a research program, research activity or research area you may investigate (Queen’s University RDM Survey, Queen’s University Library 2015).

Looking Ahead 

Currently we are resourced to assist Tri-Agency funded researchers with the first round of applications requiring DMPs in the Spring of 2022. The institutional strategy is a living document and the RDMIC will revisit the strategy based on researcher response and Tri-Agency requirements. We will plan for an annual review of Queen’s Institutional Strategy by the RDMIC and the VPR Executive team. Should staff be required for assistance, it is possible that additional staff will be hired. 

For more information, please contact: 
Dr. Betsy Donald, Associate Vice-Principal Research at  betsy.donald@queensu.ca

Terms of Reference for the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy
Implementation Committee
Queen’s University, Vice-Principal Research
Leading Research Excellence”

Principle: Queen’s University is committed to excellence in research including the highest ethical standards.

Background: In response to the release of the Tri-Agency Data Management Policy (2021), Queen’s University will develop an institutional strategy to govern research data management at Queen’s. According to the Tri-Agency Policy, “research data collected through the use of public funds should be responsibly and securely managed and be, where ethical, legal and commercial obligations allow, available for reuse by others. To this end, the agencies support the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) guiding principles for research data management and stewardship” (https://www.science.gc.ca/eic/site/063.nsf/eng/h_97610.html 2021).

Objective: The purpose of the Implementation Committee is to develop an institutional strategy* to support research excellence at Queen’s University, by promoting sound research data management and data stewardship practices. The institutional strategy for research data management will be publicly posted and the Tri-Agency notified by March 1, 2023. *“An institutional strategy is a concise and directive document that outlines how an institution, such as a university or research institute, will increase its capacity for effectively managing its research data.” (https://portagenetwork.ca/network-of-experts/institutional-rdm-strategy/ 2021).

Implementation Methodology: The policy will draw heavily on insights from the Tri-Agency and refer to U15 strategies and guidelines. In addition, the Portage Network offers a strategy template and guideline document to support the institutional strategy development process. An Implementation Committee will be established to review relevant internal and external resources that have formalized standards of practice. Best practices in Indigenous research data governance and sovereignty will also inform this strategy.

Expertise Required: The plan and strategy-writing and review process requires input and advice from researchers and data management and governance experts at Queen’s University, including but not limited to, representatives from Information Technology Services, the Library, Legal Counsel and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

Reporting Requirements: The Implementation Committee will gather feedback from the Queen’s University research community. In addition, the Policy Advisory Subcommittee, the Senate Advisory Research Committee, and the Senior Leadership Team will be consulted. The Committee will seek advice from the Indigenous Knowledge, Curriculum and Research Working Group, as well as the Indigenous Council of Queen’s University and the Elders’ Advisory Circle before the strategy goes to Senate for review and approval.

Committee Composition: The Research Data Management Policy Implementation Committee will be an ad-hoc committee that reports to the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio (VPR). The Committee will be composed of a representative from Information Technology Services, a representative from the Library, a representative from the Privacy Office, and a representative from Legal Counsel, with expertise in research data management, as well as representatives from the Vice-Principal Research (VPR) portfolio. The Committee will be supported by Rebecca Pero, the Information and Project Coordinator from the VPR portfolio. Ad hoc roles will be added to the Committee to consult on various aspects of research data management as deemed appropriate/necessary by members.

The Committee will consist of:

  • Alicia Cappello, Research Data Management Librarian, University Library;
  • Andrew Winterborn, University Veterinarian;
  • Aleksandra Bergier, Research Advisor, Indigenous Initiatives, Vice-Principal Research;
  • Ashish Bhatt, Information and Data Management Officer, Information Technology Services
  • Betsy Donald, Associate Vice-Principal Research, Vice-Principal Research;
  • Carolyn Heald, Privacy Officer, Records Management and Privacy Office;
  • Diane Davies, Research Project Advisor – Social Sciences and Humanities, University Research Services;
  • Elise Degen, Communications and Relations, Centre for Advanced Computing;
  • Margo Langford, Director, Legal Counsel, Vice-Principal Research;
  • Rebecca Pero, Information and Project Coordinator, Vice-Principal Research; and
  • Saneel Vasram, Director (Interim), Strategy and Architecture, Information Technology Services

Work Plan: The Committee will*:

  1. Conduct environmental scan of best practices and guides related to RDM, internal and external to the University;
  2. Receive information and feedback on best approaches for RDM and data stewardship from relevant stakeholders;
  3. Consult with Indigenous knowledge keepers on best methods related to data governance in the context of research by and with Indigenous people;
  4. Collect information and feedback from consultations and prepare a draft strategy document for further consultation;
  5. Consider plan for education and training for researchers to promote research data management guidelines; and
  6. Prepare a document for review and approval by Senate.

*other tasks may be delegated as required.

Resources: Rebecca Pero, Information and Project Coordinator, VPR. Rebecca will serve as the first point of contact for this project, from initiation to implementation.

Timeline: The Working Group will meet regularly during the 2021-2022 academic year, with a goal to complete the strategy by April 2022. The institutional framework will be available on the University-wide Policy Library webpage.

Related Documents:

  • SSHRC Research Data Archiving Policy
  • Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2) Chapter 9
  • Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management
  • RDM, Data Deposit Policy, Queen’s University Library
  • Electronic Information Security Policy, Information Technology Services, Queen’s University
  • Ethics (Human), Queen’s University
  • Intellectual Property, Queen’s University
  • The First Nations Principles of OCAP
  • CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance
  • Other relevant policies and documentation

Reporting: The Committee will report to the Vice-Principal (Research).

Contact: Rebecca (Becky) Pero, Information and Project Coordinator, pero.rebecca@queensu.ca

Category: Research

Sponsor: Vice-Principal (Research) Authority: Vice-Principal (Research)