The Research Data Management Program funds the development of software components and tools to enable Canadian researchers to adopt best practices across the research workflow. Research Data Management (RDM) best practices are critical to supporting researchers’ ability to find, access, and reuse data that has been generated by others. For principal investigators (PI), RDM also plays an important role in helping manage project data, which can be especially challenging in a large research lab where graduate students and collaborators come and go regularly. Effective RDM helps ensure the protection of data during a research project and beyond, helping meet the increasingly stringent requirements of good research ethics and reproducibility.
What is Research Data Management (RDM)?
RDM refers to the creation, storage, access and preservation of data produced from a given investigation. 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 long-term preservation of data deliverables after the research investigation has concluded.
Specific activities and issues that fall within the category of data management include:
- file naming conventions;
- data quality control and quality assurance;
- data access;
- data documentation (including levels of uncertainty);
- metadata creation and controlled vocabularies;
- data storage;
- data archiving and preservation;
- data sharing and reuse;
- data integrity;
- data security;
- data privacy;
- data rights; and
- notebook protocols (lab or field)*
What does effective RDM look like?
To be effective, RDM activities and protocols must be coordinated and shared not only among researchers in a specific project or institution but also among researchers across Canada and around the world.
Software that reflects national and international best practices enables researchers to tap into a network of research platforms and data repositories that support the creation, curation and preservation of data, so that current and future generations can find, access, reuse, and manage it. These systems must then be linked to an archival storage network that ensures that data deemed worthy of preservation is stored properly for the long-term. All of the data repositories and archival storage platforms that are included in these networks are housed across a diverse community of domestic and international organizations/institutions, which makes their interoperability challenging, but critical.
How does CANARIE’s RDM Program support researchers?
In a call for proposals that was launched in May 2018, CANARIE is funding the development of RDM software components and tools to encourage the broad adoption of RDM best practices among researchers. To help shape the priorities for this funding call, a community consultation was announced in January 2018. CANARIE is grateful for the RDM stakeholder community’s broad engagement in this consultation. Their feedback ensured the funding call’s focus on community-identified priorities.