Research Data Management is the collection, organization, documentation, and storage of research data. It can be described as the who, what, when, where, and how of data used for research. Good RDM is a key element of the research lifecycle and allows researchers to better access, reuse, preserve, and share their data. In recent years, an increased emphasis on concepts such as reproducibility, scientific rigour, and collaboration has made RDM more important than ever.
The Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy was launched in 2021 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to improve research by encouraging good RDM practices and supporting the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles. The policy requires post-secondary institutions that receive grant funding to create institutional RDM strategies and make them publicly available on their websites by March 1st, 2023.
BCIT Research Data Management Strategy
Version 1, published 2023-03-01
Acknowledgement of Territories
The British Columbia Institute of Technology acknowledges that our campuses are located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Nations of xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh).
Research Data Management (RDM) refers to the collection, organization, documentation, and storage of research data, which helps researchers to access, reuse, preserve, and share their data.
The Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy was launched in 2021 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to improve research by encouraging good RDM practices and supporting the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles. The policy requires post-secondary institutions that receive Tri-Agency grant funding to create institutional RDM strategies and make them publicly available on their websites by March 1st, 2023.
BCIT is committed to supporting researchers and becoming a leader in applied research. This Strategy shows how BCIT plans to support researchers in their RDM efforts, promote good RDM on campus, and acknowledge the unique data rights of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.
What is Research Data Management (RDM)?
Research Data Management is the collection, organization, documentation, and storage of research data. It can be described as the who, what, when, where, and how of data used for research.
Good RDM is a key element of the research lifecycle and allows researchers to better access, reuse, preserve, and share their data. In recent years, an increased emphasis on concepts such as reproducibility, scientific rigour, and collaboration has made RDM more important than ever.
What is the RDM Strategy?
In March of 2021, the three major federal granting agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)—launched the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy. This policy is aimed at researchers and institutions receiving funding from the Agencies for research projects.
The policy used a three-pronged approach (one aimed at institutions and two aimed at individual researchers) to improve research by encouraging good Research Data Management practices and supporting the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data principles. The three elements of the policy are:
- Institutional Strategy (for institutions)
- Data Management Plans (for individual researchers)
- Data Deposit (for individual researchers)
The policy states that “[e]ach postsecondary institution and research hospital eligible to administer CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC funds is required to create an institutional RDM strategy” and that this strategy must be made publicly available on each institution’s website by March 1st, 2023.
The Policy states that institutional strategies “should include items such as:”
- recognizing data as an important research output;
- supporting researchers in their efforts to establish and implement data management practices that are consistent with ethical, legal and commercial obligations, as well as Tri-Agency requirements, including the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans – 2nd edition, the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, and other relevant policies;
- promoting the importance of data management to researchers, staff and students;
- guiding their researchers on how to properly manage data in accordance with the principles outlined in the Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management, including the development of data management plans;
- committing to the adoption of established best practices when developing institutional standards and policies for data management plans;
- providing, or supporting access to, repository services or other platforms that securely preserve, curate and provide appropriate access to research data;
- recognizing that data created in the context of research by and with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, collectives and organizations will be managed according to principles developed and approved by those communities, collectives and organizations, and in partnership with them;
- recognizing 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.
Data Management Plans & Data Deposit
These elements of the policy are aimed directly at researchers. They require grant proposals for certain Tri-Agencies funding opportunities to include Data Management Plans and for researchers who have received grant funding to deposit into repositories all research data used as the basis of journal publications and pre-prints by the time of publication. This data includes digital research data, metadata, and code and “should be linked to the publication with a persistent digital identifier.”
Notably, researchers are not required to share their data and the policy specifically states that it is “not an open data policy,” but there is an expectation that researchers will “provide appropriate access to the data where ethical, cultural, legal and commercial requirements allow.”
While there are no specific penalties listed if a researcher fails to comply with the policy, it does state that “the agency may take steps outlined in accordance with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research to deal with” any researchers who fail to comply.
Why is having an RDM strategy important?
Creating an RDM strategy allows BCIT to show our commitment to supporting research on campus. It is also the first step in developing campus-wide infrastructure to better provide our researchers with what they need and finding research data-specific areas which can benefit from increased support.
Current State of BCIT
BCIT is a public polytechnic institute that offers microcredentials, certificates, diplomas, apprenticeships, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees. For 2021-2022 BCIT had 45,509 students (17,213 full-time students and 28,296 part-time) and awarded 7,693 credentials in 2020-2021. BCIT had 2,727 employees in 2020-2021, with 71% of those faculty, 21% support, and 8% management.
Unlike some other post-secondary institutions in BC, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills has not given BCIT a specific research mandate. BCIT has the mandate to provide access to “post-secondary education and skills training.” Despite this, BCIT has a strong culture of research support, stating in its Institutional Accountability Plan and Report that applied research is “one of its pillar activities” and that it plans to become a leader in this area. BCIT’s Applied Research Strategic Plan states “BCIT will embrace research as an integral part of its drive for excellence.”
Current Research at BCIT
In 1988, BCIT was mandated by the provincial government to provide support to British Columbia’s industry for commercial technical innovation. This was enabled by an increase to the BCIT budget specifically targeted for applied research, and the creation of the original Technology Centre, which was dedicated to industrial research and development. Since then, applied research has evolved to harness many opportunities—and many people, processes, and projects have contributed to where the Institute is today.
Our expertise covers a wide range of technologies of vital importance to the provincial economy, such as information technology, building science, biotech, health and forensics, natural resources, manufacturing, energy, transportation, business, food, sustainability, and the environment. The research at the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI) fosters and maintains the research momentum at BCIT and helps to fulfil our mandate of providing excellence in applied research and innovation to industry and students, and is poised to do so into the future.
BCIT has one current and two former Canada Research Chairs and has received over $8 million in Tr-Agency funding for various projects. The Canada Research Chairs Program is an initiative of the Tri-Agencies. Since all institutions that administer Tri-Agencies funding are required to create an institutional research data management strategy, research done for these programs will be the initial focus of BCIT’s institutional strategy.
BCIT has a strong practice of applied research. These projects include collaborations between faculty and industry in pursuit of new methodologies, technologies, and procedures. BCIT also provides internal funding to researchers working on specific projects and there are many other faculty and staff at BCIT working on research. While these researchers do not fall under the umbrella of the Agencies, they will also have access to the services and support that are developed as part of the institutional strategy.
BCIT’s RDM Strategy has been developed in response to the Tri-Agency Policy and thus applies specifically to research funded by the Tri-Agencies. However, it includes information that can be applied to research done at all levels at BCIT, from undergraduate projects to grant-funded projects.
Goal of this document
The Strategy is intended to describe current RDM support available at BCIT and proposed services for the next several years that will better support researchers.
The Strategy is Not designed to be a policy document that must be adhered to by all researchers at BCIT or provide a definition of what an ideal RDM support system should be. It is also Not a document that discusses “institutional data” such as salaries, courses offered, the Research Ethics Board, or information concerning students.
The Tri-Agency policy states that institutions should “regularly review and revise the strategy where appropriate.” As such, this is a living document that will be continually revised and assessed, much like a Data Management Plan.
Who Owns Research Data at BCIT?
Section 7.5.6 of the Collective Agreement between B.C. Institute of Technology and the BCIT Faculty and Staff Association states that:
“when an Employee creates and produces manuals, texts, workbooks, film slides, video-tape or other audiovisual material, or computer programs, etc., with Institute resources, and does so under an agreed grant, subsidy or compensation from the Institute, all of which are subject to negotiation between the Parties, ownership of any material produced shall remain with the Employee.”
Core development team
This document was primarily developed by Matthew Murray, BCIT’s former Data and Graduate Studies Librarian, with assistance from Joe Boyd, Research Liaison at the Applied Research Liaison Office (ARLO).
Support is available from the BCIT Library for researchers developing Data Management Plans, identifying and using research data repositories, and other data-related tasks.
Who else is involved
Select faculty and staff have been invited to provide feedback on this document.
It is suggested that an RDM Steering Committee be created that will include representatives from the Library, FSA Caucus for Applied Research and Advanced Studies (CARAS), Indigenous Initiatives, IT Services, Research Ethics Board, Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion, School Research Committees, and other relevant departments.
Throughout 2023 the BCIT RDM Steering Committee would gather information from researchers to improve the Strategy.
BCIT’s Research Ethics Board uses BCIT’s Research Ethics for Human Participant Policy #6500 [PDF], which is based on the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans – TCPS 2.
The current REB application form asks for a description of data storage, data privacy, future use of the data, and potential public access to the data.
BCIT has developed an Indigenous Vision and made Indigenization one of nine initiatives in our Strategic Plan with a goal to “[I]nfuse Indigenous knowledge and practices throughout the organization and within our partnerships to mobilize broader societal change” and will use these same ideals regarding Indigenous data.
BCIT recognizes and respects Indigenous peoples, their ways of knowing and doing, and the importance of allowing Indigenous peoples control over their own data. As such, we are committed to following the four CARE (Collective Benefit, Authority to Control, Responsibility, Ethics) Principles for Indigenous Data Governance and working with Indigenous Elders, Indigenous groups, and our Indigenous Initiatives department to develop guidelines, best practices, training, and learning resources for researchers at BCIT working with data concerning Indigenous peoples. BCIT recognizes that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit groups and communities will have different data priorities and that research projects and data management plans need to be created in consultation with the specific groups that are involved.
Create BCIT RDM Steering Committee
It is recommended that an RDM Steering Committee be created that will include representatives from the Library, FSA Caucus for Applied Research and Advanced Studies (CARAS), Indigenous Initiatives, IT Services, Research Ethics Board, Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion, School Research Committees, and other relevant departments
This committee would coordinate meetings, focus groups, and surveys to gather feedback from researchers at BCIT concerning the RDM Strategy. Additionally, the committee would look at the RDM Strategies of other institutions in BC and across Canada to see what they have accomplished and planned. This information will be used to revise and improve BCIT’s institutional RDM strategy to reflect local and national priorities and changes to infrastructure, services, and best practices.
The committee would also investigate how BCIT can incorporate good research data management practices into industry research partnership contracts and develop BCIT-specific standards and policies for data management plans;
Institute RDM Policy
There is no current RDM policy at BCIT. Depending on feedback from researchers and administration, specific policies concerning what needs to be done with research data created by students and researchers may be created.
The BCIT Library has created a Research Guide to Research Data. It contains information on best practices, data management plans, data storage, and more.
BCIT does not currently have a research data repository, though the BCIT Library has cIRcuit, BCIT’s Institutional Repository. While research data could be added to cIRcuit, it is not designed for such and will not work well with many file formats or exceptionally large datasets.
Any researchers looking for a data repository or data storage can work with the Library to find an appropriate repository such as FRDR (Federated Research Data Repository).
BCIT commits to investigating research data storage options and is investigating the possibility of a collaborative research data repository with other BC institutions.
Data Management Plans
The Library is available to assist any researchers who need additional help with Data Management Plans. The Portage Network’s DMP Assistant is the recommended tool for BCIT researchers looking to create a plan.
BCIT is registered as an organization with the DMP Assistant. This allows the Administrator (currently the Data and Graduate Studies Librarian) to track users and DMPs affiliated with BCIT, create DMP templates and guidance, and view usage statistics. The administrator can also leave feedback on DMPs from BCIT researchers when requested.
Workshops and Training
BCIT will investigate developing workshops on RDM topics. The specific workshops will depend on the interest and demand of faculty and students. Potential topics include:
- Data Management Plans
- Data curation
- Metadata creation
- Specific tools (such as OpenRefine or Git)
The SFU Research Computing Training Team works closely with the Digital Research Alliance of Canada and all universities across Western Canada to offer various skill-building workshops in research computing tools, software, platforms, and methods. This is a free service to institutions and can be delivered virtually or in person.
BCIT aims to raise awareness of research data and good data management practices. Some examples of potential outreach opportunities include:
- Participating in events such as International Love Data Week and International Open Access Week
- Creating content for internal and external social media to promote good research data management practices and services available to BCIT researchers
- Organizing “lunch and learn” and similar events to discuss good data management
- Working with faculty to embed research data education into coursework
- Presentations to employees at BCIT’s PD (Professional Development) Day
BCIT has internal funding opportunities to support teaching, learning, research and technological innovation projects by faculty and staff. BCIT will investigate adding data management requirements, such as data management plans and data storage, to internal research grant applications.
BCIT aims to create a community of research in which researchers are educated in good research data management practices and aware of the internal and external services and resources available to help them. Researchers will know about data management plans, data curation, data preservation, and how and why to make their research data openly available. It is recommended that the BCIT RDM Steering Committee review and update this document on a yearly basis.
- Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy
- Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy – Frequently Asked Questions
- The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans
- The Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research
- The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans – TCPS 2
Research data that is not publicly available and can only be accessed by authorized individuals or groups.
Any collection of information, facts, or statistics that can be processed, analyzed, and used to inform research or decision-making.
The act of submitting research data to a repository or other data-sharing platform for storage and future use.
Data Management Plan (DMP)
A living document that specifies how data will be collected, documented, formatted, and stored over the course of a research project and whether and how data will be preserved and shared after the project is over.
A digital storage location where data can be stored, managed, and accessed by others.
Collaborative research projects that involve academic researchers and industry partners working together to advance a specific field.
Research data that is publicly available and can be accessed, used, and shared by anyone without restriction.
Data that is collected, processed, and analyzed as part of a research project. Can include both quantitative and qualitative data such as survey responses, experimental results, observational data, video files, or computer code.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).