Research Data Management for researchers
In the expansion of knowledge through research, and in transferring knowledge through education, adopting professional data/information management practice is essential. While policy exists at both university and national levels there is still a need for more practical advice aimed at researchers and students. The following advice and supporting resources were collated in consultation with the eResearch community, School of Graduate Research, Melbourne Research Office and Records Services.
Data Management Plans
A Data Management Plan (DMP) is the documentation of research data management practices and any responsibilities such as university policies, ethics, intellectual property, attribution etc. Its purpose is to ensure the quality of your research data and outputs, integrity and repeatability, appropriate access to data, and appropriate reuse of data for subsequent research. A DMP may be created for a department, a project or a collaboration. The responsibility of implementing and following the DMP lies with the involved researchers, IT managers and data managers.
The policy for the Management of Research Data and Records (PDF 253 kb) was endorsed by Academic Board in May 2011 and now appears in the University Policy Library.
The following are a list of useful resources for research data management and data management plans:
- Research Data Management template found at the Doing Data Better @ Melbourne website.
- MSGR UpSkills - Data Management Workshop - 11 May 2011 (Ppt)
- Worksheet template handout - extract from the above template.
The following is a list of useful references for data management and data management plans. This list covers all the majority of responsibilities that researchers could encounter in the management of their data, including University policies, funding requirements, ethics, consent, licensing, legislation, and reporting requirements.
- Records Management Policy and Procedures Manual - chapters 1 and 7.
- Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records
- MRO Areas of Conduct - ethics, gene technology, biosafety, authorship, conflict of interest, health and safety
- MRO Research Integrity - start with this "Definition"
- MRO Intellectual Property at Melbourne
- Regulation 17.1.R8 - Code of Conduct for Research
- Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
- National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research
- Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes
- OAK Law - Practical Data Management - A legal and policy guide - especially section 4 onwards.
- ARC Funding Agreements
- ARC Funding Rules - in DP especially "Fundamental principles and requirements" and "Other Matters"
- NHMRC Funding - see "How to Apply" and "Funding Policy" for each grant
Basic reading for new research students should include the following subset of the above reading:
- Records Management Policy and Procedures Manual - Chapter 7.
- Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records - Parts 4.1, 4.3, and 5.
- MRO Research Integrity - start with this "Definition"
- Regulation 17.1.R8 - Code of Conduct for Research - read from section 1. through to 2.3
- OAK Law - Practical Data Management - A legal and policy guide - read section 5, page 39 through 43.
- MRO Animal/Human Research Ethics
- MRO Intellectual Property at Melbourne - read "Overview"
This is a total of 13.5 pages of essential reading covering most terminology and issues that a new researcher will encounter.
The following are some example data management plans:
- Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre DMP - departmental plan (PDF)
- VCU Rice Center for the Environmental Life Sciences - project plan (PDF)
Questions and Answers
To ask a question email Andy Tseng - "tsenga AT unimelb.edu.au" or phone x53313
Q1. Who owns my research data and outputs?
The University has a statute on Intellectual Property which states that 'scholarly works' (article, book, musical composition, creative writing or like publication or any digital or electronic version of these but not teaching material) are the property of the author for academic staff and students, but the University has a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide and irrevocable licence to use for educational, teaching and research purposes (unless otherwise negotiated). For students, honorary appointees or visitors everything excluding teaching material is the property of the creator, unless the subject of a specified agreement (eg. agency, granting body, company). In all other circumstances the property remains with the University (unless otherwise negotiated).
Effectively, research data created by students, honorary appointees and visitors is owned by the creators (unless subject to agreement), but for academic and general staff it belongs to the University. If research data can be considered a scholarly work (see above) it can be owned by academic staff. In situations where research data is created by combinations of staff and students/honoraries/visitors (joint contributions), the University may have intellectual property rights. These should be determined before creation with the aid of the Head of Department and/or Melbourne Research Office. See Intellectual Property at Melbourne including some great information about Students and Supervisors.
The good news is that students and staff have a right under University policy to share in net revenue from any IP they have helped create and commercialise. And all creators have the 'moral right' to be recognised as the creator.
Q2. When I leave the Uni, can I take my research data with me?
This will depend on the funding source used to generate the data; some stipulate various requirements. The University Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records states that "If the researcher moves to another department within the University they may make a request to relocate the original data and records to their new department."
Q3. Do I need to worry about Ethics?
To avoid your data and research coming under ethical review you can avoid the use of human participants, referencing individual subjects (people), identifiers for individuals, and avoid the use of live animals. Where this is not possible data is still exempt from ethics review if freely available in the public domain or pure observation studies of public behaviour. Observational data should be of human action that occurs in a forum open to the general public, non-invasive and requires no interaction with participants. In addition, participants should not be identified by name in observation data. For more information read:
- Human Ethics at the University of Melbourne
- Animal Research Ethics brochure
- Why do I need animal ethics approval?
- Human Ethics site