Nov. 15, 2022

Got data? UCalgary Research Data Management strategy needs your feedback by Nov. 20

Committee members answer your questions about the strategy and how it will support student, faculty, and postdoc research
research data management

Got research data? If so, the incoming Tri-Agency Research Data Management (RDM) Policy will most likely apply to you.

In March 2021, Canada’s federal granting agencies, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC, launched the Tri-Agency RDM Policy. This policy rests on three pillars supporting sound RDM and data stewardship practices: institutional RDM strategies, data management plans (DMPs), and data deposit. The tri-agencies will be implementing the policy in stages over the next few years; in the not-too-distant future, most tri-agency funding opportunities will likely have a data management requirement, such as a formal DMP, included in their application process.  

In response to the tri-agency policy, the University of Calgary must develop an institutional RDM strategy by March 2023 outlining how the institution will support the management of digital research data. Once in place, the UCalgary RDM strategy will support every researcher on campus, including those applying for CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC grants.

The RDM Strategy Steering and Working Committees have developed a draft of the UCalgary RDM strategy for consultation. The draft strategy outlines how UCalgary will address the RDM needs of our diverse research community and enable and support RDM best practices.

Given the broad future impact of this document on the research community, your feedback matters. The consultation survey is posted on the Research website and is open for responses until Nov. 20, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. (MT).

RDM Strategy Steering Committee co-chairs, Dr. Robert Thompson, PhD, associate vice-president (research), and Dr. Mary-Jo Romaniuk, PhD, deputy provost and vice-provost (Libraries and Cultural Resources), answered some frequently asked questions that have come up during the consultation process.

Q: What research data does the strategy apply to?

A: The draft strategy applies primarily to digital data, as these will be subject to the tri-agency's forthcoming data deposit requirement. Physical objects such as biospecimens, experimental apparatuses, or hard copy notebooks may need to be discussed in DMPs but they are not the primary focus of the strategy.

Scholars who work with less common forms of data or do not usually consider their research to involve data may still be affected by the UCalgary RDM Strategy and the Tri-Agency RDM Policy. 

We encourage researchers to consider their data using the tri-agency definition of "research data":

“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.”– Frequently Asked Questions Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy

Q: Are there resources and funding available to properly support the research community to do RDM as required by the tri-agencies? 

A: At this time, there are a number of resources on campus to support RDM. RDM support at UCalgary is currently supported primarily by Libraries and Cultural Resources (LCR) and Research Computing Services (RCS).

LCR provides training on RDM and DMPs specifically, as well as data archive services through the PRISM Data institutional data repository and other appropriate LCR repositories. RSC has a team of data scientists who work directly with researchers on active research data and manage research data storage systems. The Research Services Office has begun offering training and advice to researchers to meet the specific RDM requirements of research funders, such as CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC. 

The university is currently reviewing the potential resource needs required to implement the Research Data Management RDM Strategy. The tri-agencies are proceeding slowly in their rollut of the requirements, which gives us some time to implement strategies to ensure our range of services are scaled appropriately.

Q: Is this a university policy?

A: No, this is not a new university policy. The RDM Strategy is designed to guide the work of setting up a support system for researchers. That support system may include additional training opportunities, IT infrastructure, and/or staff. We will use the RDM strategy to better understand what the UCalgary research community needs. It is not meant to be prescriptive or to impose requirements on researchers.

However, part of the UCalgary RDM Strategy will be to assess existing institutional policies and procedures, and how they intersect with RDM practices and the tri-agency policy requirements. When we begin this process, there will be further campus consultation.

Q: Will all research programs be affected, even if they’re not receiving tri-agency funding?

A: We anticipate that eventually the vast majority of research programs will be required to include good RDM practices in some way, shape or form. Those requirements may come from funders, publishers or industry or community partners. For example, the U.S. National Institutes of Health will have a Data Management & Sharing Policy in place as of Jan. 25, 2023.

Regardless of requirements, having a sound RDM strategy is conducive to reproducibility and quality research. We want our research community to have the skills and supports needed to participate in relevant open science practices.

We recommend that all researchers begin to familiarize themselves with RDM practices now, in advance of requirements coming into effect. Please visit the UCalgary RDM Learning Resources web page for training materials and webinars.

Q: Why don’t we have more information about how the tri-agencies will roll out the policy?

A: The tri-agencies are using a staged approach to assess the readiness of the Canadian research community to meet the RDM requirements. They have said they will implement the policy based on their findings, which is resulting in an incremental release of information. The UCalgary RDM Working and Steering Committees will share information when we receive it.

Q: I know that this will affect me, but I don’t have any feedback at this time. Will there be more opportunities for consultation?

A: Yes. As we review policies and procedures and develop the framework for RDM support at UCalgary, we will continue to seek input from the research community. We will update researchers regularly throughout this process.

We welcome all members of the UCalgary research community to provide feedback on the draft strategy by Nov. 20, 2022. This includes faculty, postdocs, undergraduate and graduate students, research staff and administrators.