Data Management

Why Data Management?

Historically, the management of large amounts of data has primarily been a problem for data intensive research groups. Such groups often come from the computational sciences.

Since its inception, supporting computational scienctists has been one of the key mandates of the IRMACS Centre. As such, the IRMACS Centre has been helping researchers store/archive and protect their research data since 2005. With the ever increasing growth in the amount of digital data being produced across all disciplines, today almost all research is data driven. Which means all researchers are, in some sense, computational scientists.

In order to help the SFU research community to address the data managment issue, IRMACS is working towards formalizing its research data management process. Building on the centres experience in working with its research projects to store and protect data, IRMACS is working with the SFU Libraries data curation initiative to develop a formal process for researchers to follow when considering a research project that requires data management.

It should be noted that the tri-council funders (NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR) are moving towards a single Open Access Policy that requires "access to the products of research".  Although currently only requiring open access to data for CIHR researchers, the tri-council agencies are moving towards a single policy for advancing digital scholorship (see the document Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada - October 16, 2013). It is anticipated that all three of the tri-council agencies will require data management plans as a fundamental part of grant proposals in the near future.

What is Data Management?

Data management is the process of managing data throughout its entire life cycle, including data collection, organization, storage, retrieval, protection, and preservation. The goal of data management, is to:

  • Promote higher quality research and peer review
  • Open the door to future research
  • Demonstrate effective stewardship of publicly funded research data
  • Ensure long-term preservation of and acccss to research data
  • Builds in procedures to ensure anonymity and privacy

(source: Research Data Management presentation - Jeff Moon, Queens University. BTW, this is an excellent presentation)

Resources for Data Management and Creating a Data Management Plan

As an IRMACS project, researchers should feel free to consult with the IRMACS technical team on their data management requirements. Our team is happy to discuss your data management needs and help you architect a data management plan for existing or future projects.

In addition to talking to the IRMACS staff, there are wide range of resources available to you as researchers to help you develop a formal data management plan.

Libraries have a long history of the stewardship of data, so it is no surprise that the SFU library is involved in data management and data stewardship. This initiative is being driven by an SFU University Priority Fund project to create a Research Data Repsoitory for SFU researchers.

The SFU Research Ethics Board has a set of policies and guidelines that are helpful to researchers that are dealing with data that is gathered as part of any research that requires ethics approvals. In particular, the REB guideline on Data Retention and Destruction is a useful document, including a brief outline of what researchers should consider in planning for the management of such data.

Finally, there are a number of organization at SFU that can provide the physical infrastructure to store and access your data. These include: