Management of Research Data

Retention, storage and management of data are essential to the responsible conduct of research.

There are national and Deakin guidelines for the management of research data during and after the life of the project. These include

  • Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (The Code), section 2.
  • Research Conduct Policy, 14-28

The Code, and recent government initiatives such as the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), provide national infrastructure and support for researchers to share the benefits of their research.

For data which have long term value, appropriate storage and management must be arranged, including conditions of access (if any) for future researchers. One option is to lodge a description of the data, including location and access conditions, with Deakin Research Online (DRO) using this form (DOC, 101.0 KB) .

The Code provides clear information to researchers about their responsibilities for the short and long term management of research data and records. Heads of School or Directors of Institute also have responsibilities for data storage under the Research Conduct Policy at Deakin.

Information on storage requirements for identifiable data about people is also available in the Deakin Human Research Ethics Guidelines.

Sharing research data increases the visibility, accessibility and impact of Deakin University research. 

Consider the following:

Almost all data are now born digital The ability to process, transform and transfer information through sharing data in many cases is becoming as easy as publishing research results.
There is support from the Federal government and research funders Australian Universities are being encouraged to store and manage data in a format that is accessible to other researchers.
Describing data collections creates a pathway for access This makes it easier for potential research partners to evaluate the quality of research projects at the University and facilitates contacts and potential partnership arrangements. Describing data collections in a repository publicises your work and enables it to be discovered using web search engines. Deakin Research Online ensures that your data are included in the Australian Research Data Commons through harvesting by Research Data Australia.
Sharing research data supports the University Strategic Plan It commits researchers at the University to ensuring that Deakin is known as a University whose research and research training has important social benefits and regional, national and international relevance. This increases the potential for future partnerships to be formed.
Sharing data expedites the translation of research results into knowledge The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) believe that "data sharing is essential for expedited translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures to improve human health."


What comprises research data?

Research data are broadly defined as all data created by researchers in the course of their work.

Research materials include, but are not limited to, physical samples, photographs, written or audio-visual recordings, artwork, questionnaires or other instruments, fieldwork notes, and other items which are either the sources of data or themselves constitute data in a research project.

Why must the University and researchers retain data?

Proper storage and management of data are part of the national guidelines set out by the federal government in its funding agreements with the University. Compliance is a condition of funding.

As a recipient of federal support including grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the University must comply with the Australian Code, federal privacy legislation and a variety of other codes and guidelines.

The reason for these requirements is to ensure that data and materials which provide the basis of research outcomes are retained for sufficient time to allow reference, and to provide evidence of the research outcomes if they are challenged. This supports transparency and integrity in research.

Data may be stored:

  • As evidence for the validity of the research
  • For later use by researchers
  • Because it has heritage value for the future

Where should data be stored?

Wherever possible, original data should be stored in the school or institute where the research was conducted. If appropriate facilities for storage are not available the Head of School or Director of Institute should ensure that appropriate facilities are provided. (Research Conduct Policy, 27.)

Most data should be stored for a minimum of five years, longer for clinical research. Minimum periods of retention are set out in the Research Conduct Policy, 23.

Where data may be re-used or where they have heritage value, appropriate storage and management should be arranged. A description of the data, including location and access conditions may be provided to Deakin Research Online (DRO) using this form (DOC, 101.0 KB) .

Where access to a wider group of researchers or the public is necessary, consideration should also be given to storing copies of the data in a:

These facilities can provide a controlled, secure environment or a completely open environment in which eligible researchers may be able to perform analyses using data resources. It is possible to store more than one version of a dataset, each providing a different level of access.

Sharing your data through a repository or archive supports discovery and recognition, as well as re-use of research efforts.

Data Sharing can also be achieved by researchers providing data directly to other researchers, or posting data on a web site. These solutions are more labour intensive for researchers and do not take the place of longer term preservation.

Requirements to archive data from publicly funded research are expected to increase. The ARC Discovery Projects Funding Agreements (PDF, 391.9 KB) for 2011 states in clause 20.2 (b) "that the Administering Organisation must ensure that all Specified Personnel make arrangements acceptable to the ARC for lodgement with an appropriate museum or archive in Australia of data or specimens or samples collected during, or resulting from, their Project".

Should I share my data?

Deakin University's Research Conduct Policy  supports the dissemination of research data as freely as practicable, though subject to privacy, contractual and intellectual property requirements. The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research  also recommend that data should be made available for use by other researchers (clause 2.5.2).

The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) identifies these practical reasons for sharing:

  • research results can be verified;
  • research into multi-disciplinary issues like climate, water, health and energy can draw data from different fields;
  • old data can contribute to new research. Once lost it is gone forever;
  • data that cannot be duplicated are preserved;
  • time series can be created;
  • duplication of effort can be avoided;
  • The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, to which all Australian universities are signatories, states that 'Research data should be made available for use by other researchers unless this is prevented by ethical, privacy or confidentiality matters.' (Section 2.5.2)

Both the ARC (Funding Agreement Section 20) and the NHMRC require administering organisations to deposit data and publications in an appropriate repository within six months of the completion of research, or give reasons why this has not been done.

This supports the Federal Government's wish to maximise the benefits from research findings as broadly as possible by allowing access by other researchers and the wider community to research findings in repositories.

Data management plan

data management plan (PDF, 145.8 KB) at the start of a new project prompts you to make decisions related to both short term and long term needs in respect to the data you create.

While not a requirement, it is a useful tool that will enable you to easily answer questions relating to ownership, ethics, retention, and sharing easily for any grant application or reporting requirement.

Deakin research data projects

Deakin is and has been undertaking projects to implement technology and processes that will improve the options that researchers have to manage and share (where appropriate) their research data collections or a descriptive record of these collections.

Seeding the Commons

Concluding in May 2012, the Seeding the Commons Project (funded by the Australian National Data Service) contributed to ongoing improvement in the capture, management and discovery of research data at Deakin University. 
The project described over 50 research data collections and made them available for viewing in Deakin University's research repository, Deakin Research Online (DRO) (select Browse > Collections > Deakin University data collections).

Deakin Metadata Store Project

The Deakin Metadata Store Project began in June 2012 and will conclude in June 2013. Funded by the Australian National Data Service, the project will implement a solution to enable Deakin researchers to describe their research data collections and make these descriptions available to a wider audience. 
While the Seeding the Commons Project developed manual processes to capture descriptions of data collections, the Deakin Metadata Store Project will take this to the next level by automating the capture of information wherever possible and developing sustainable processes for the capture of research data collection descriptions.
The Project Board is made up of representatives from eSolutions, Deakin Research, the Library and the Faculties. This partnership is crucial to the success of the project.
The intended benefits of the project are to:

  • increase the impact of the research that Deakin's researchers are undertaking
  • improve opportunities for research collaboration
  • enable Deakin's researchers to gain citations for sharing their data (where appropriate)
  • raise the profile of Deakin's researchers
  • assist Deakin's researchers to fulfil obligations as outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Research Data Management Project

The internally funded Research Data Management Project began in August 2012 and will conclude in August 2013. While the Deakin Metadata Store Project will deliver the technology and processes to enable descriptions of research data collections to be developed and shared, the Research Data Management Project will deliver technology and processes to assist the researcher to effectively manage their research data by using central services that will ensure the security and longevity of their data. This project will deliver:

  • A Data Management Planning Tool to assist researchers to plan for the management of their research data.
  • An enhanced research data store that automates the creation of share spaces for research data collections, integrates with the Data Management Planning Tool, has archiving capabilities, has built in file management tools, and allows the researcher to share their research data with a broader audience (where appropriate).
  • A documented business process that clearly shows activities to be undertaken to manage research data at relevant stages of the research lifecycle.
  • An online research data management guide.
  • A communication and awareness program for researchers to encourage them and empower them to manage their research data effectively.

As with the Deakin Metadata Store Project, the Research Data Management Project Board is made up of representatives from eSolutions, Deakin Research, the Library and the Faculties. This partnership is crucial to the success of the project.

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