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Data Management Plan

The management of data needs to be considered, planned, reviewed and updated, when necessary. Data Management Plans (DMP’s) should be living documents that are added to and refined as you move through your project.

Resources to support data management have been in place at ECU since 2008.  Recently, the Data Management Plan (DMP) has been reviewed and revised by all relevant stakeholders involved in managing data at ECU. The service centres involved in data management include Information Management & Archive Services, the Library, Research Services and IT Services. The revised DMP has been tested with members of the research community.

Please watch this short video on the changes of data management planning at ECU.

ECU staff and HDR students can access the new data management plan for all existing research projects here.

ECU's new Data Management Plan: Data Characteristics; Storage and Security; Retention; and Access and Reuse

Data Management Plan contents

In creating your DMP you will be asked to consider the characteristics of your data, how you will securely store your records during the research project, your legal requirements for retention of the completed data and the access and reuse of your data in the future.  The following section describes the type of questions asked of you as you complete a data management plan, and the background reading and support available to support the secure management of your data.

Data is one of the most important aspects of any research study. It is vital to consider the features and attributes of the data including the identifiability of an individual and the sensitivity of information which is being collected, along with any legal or ethical requirements before identifiable information is collected, generated or shared.

The data management plan will ask you to document the potential identifiability of your data, detail any classification of sensitive data and note your anticipated data collection dates.  The sensitivity of your data is important as it helps determine how the data should be stored, where it should be stored and for how long.

Further information

The Code sets out that ‘Research data controlled by the institution and/or its researchers should be stored in facilities provided by or approved by the institution’ (NHMRC 2018)

All digital and non-digital research data must be stored in a safe and secure technical or physical environment. ECU centrally provisions research data storage space through SharePoint to ensure that data is classified, labelled and managed appropriately All research project information and collected or generated data should be stored in your SharePoint site, which will always be available to members of your project team.

SharePoint is recommended as the default storage platform for research data because it is:

  • Secure: ECU’s Office365 environment has the required ISO certifications that provide confidence that data is stored securely, backup up appropriately and encrypted in transit and at rest.
  • Cost effective: Storage on the SharePoint platform is included in our existing Office365 subscription. There is no additional cost to research projects in storing data to this platform.
  • Easy to use: Teams is now used by all ECU staff for Calling and Collaboration. This makes the entry point to research data storage familiar for researchers.
  • Accessible: Office365 is accessible from anywhere without the need for a VPN or specialised software.
  • Support for file types, size and volume: SharePoint allows the storage of a wide range of file types, individual file sizes up to 15GB and collective storage volume per site collection of 25TB.
  • Support for collaboration: SharePoint enables the nominated Investigator(s) to share data with internal and external collaborators from the SharePoint platform.
  • Retention Ready: SharePoint collections will be pre-populated with the recommended, retention ready folder structure that will aid researchers in keeping their data in a retention ready state that meets IMAS requirements.

The data management plan will capture the format and size of your anticipated data files to ensure that the storage space provided meets the needs of the research. IT Services will contact you if you indicate you may have alternative storage requirements or large data storage capacity.

The Five Safes framework

This framework was developed in the UK in the early 2000’s but has since been adopted internationally, and in Australia is widely becoming common language across the commonwealth. The framework sets out a multi-dimensional approach to managing disclosure risk and poses specific questions to help identify, manage and mitigate the risk:

  • Safe projects – Is the use of the data appropriate? - The use of the data is legal, ethical and the project is expected to deliver public benefit.
  • Safe people – Can the users be trusted to use it in an appropriate manner? - Researchers have the knowledge, skills and incentives to act in accordance with required standards of behaviour.
  • Safe data – Is there a disclosure risk in the data itself? - Data has been treated appropriately to minimise the potential for identification of individuals or organisations.
  • Safe settings – Does the access facility prevent unauthorised use? -  There are practical controls on the way the data is accessed – both from a technology perspective and considering the physical environment.
  • Safe output – Are the statistical results non-disclosive? - A final check can be required to minimise risk when releasing the findings of the project.

ECU’s Data Management Plan and Storage and Security pillar incorporates the principles of the Five Safes framework however researchers should be familiar with the principles of Five Safes in the context of their research and ensure they are meeting all institutional approvals.

For more information on the Five Safes framework see the Australian Bureau of Statistics webpage or the Office of the National Data Commissioner Data Sharing Principles Best Practice Guide which are based on the five safes framework.

Further information

Library Guide on Research Data Management

Data retention outlines the archiving requirements after the project has been completed to ensure both federal and state compliance. ECU is a member of the Western Australian Sector Disposal Authority (WAUSDA), who facilitate the authorised and lawful disposal of all records generated by Western Australian public Universities

The data management plan allows you to describe the anticipated retention dates and retention periods depending on the characteristics of your data. Researchers can find more information on determining data retention requirements here and in the WAUSDA quick guide.

Information Management & Archive Services (IMAS) will make contact with you if you indicate your research has non-digital data storage requirements. They will also be in contact just before your estimated retention date to check progress of your research project and readiness for data retention.

Further information

Researchers should consider the benefits of making the research data openly accessible and discoverable, including the potential for future use of the data by other researchers.

The open access publication of data can lead to increased social good, transparency and verification of research. Datasets can be reused for purposes very different to the original research and the combination of multiple existing datasets can provide an efficient starting point for research projects.

Research participants must provide consent for their data to be accessible and reused.  This is achieved by clearly outlining your intentions in your participant information and consent forms.  ECU’s template Information Letters and Consent Forms contain this important information.

The data management plan will ask you to indicate if you will be making your data openly accessible and discoverable, through ECU’s Institutional Repository or others. The Library team will contact you to support and assist this process.

F.A.I.R data principles

The FAIR data principles are an international approach to improve the discoverability and impact of research data and publications, receiving recognition from various organisations including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the European Commission as a useful framework for thinking about sharing data in a way that will enable maximum use and reuse.

  • Findable: Assigning a persistent identifier, having rich metadata to describe the data and making sure it is findable through disciplinary discovery portals (local (such as ECUs Research Online) and international).
  • Accessible: Making the data open when possible. There are sometimes reasons why data cannot be made open, for example privacy concerns, national security or commercial interests. If it is not open there should be clarity and transparency around the conditions governing access and reuse.
  • Interoperable: To be interoperable the data will need to use community agreed formats, language and vocabularies.
  • Reusable: Reusable data should maintain its initial richness. For example, it should not be diminished for the purpose of explaining the findings in one particular publication. It needs a clear machine-readable licence and provenance information on how the data was formed. It should also have discipline-specific data and metadata standards to give it rich contextual information that will allow for reuse.

ECU’s ‘Access and Reuse’ data management pillar provides an opportunity for researchers to incorporate the principles of FAIR data through the data management plan which asks you to indicate if you will be making your data openly accessible and discoverable, through ECU’s Institutional Repository or others.

The Library Research Services team can provide further support and assistance on access, reuse and making your data FAIR at researchonline@ecu.edu.au

Further information

Future state

In 2020, data management plans will be mandated for all ECU research to meet the requirements of the National Statement for Ethical Conduct in Human Research and the Code.

ECU will enable a robust, consistent approach to data management planning, allowing both the institution and researchers to meet responsibilities from the Code and the requirements of the National Statement along with considering other factors e.g. security of data while travelling.

In Semester 2, 2020, data management plans will form part of the research ethics process and be included in your ethics application. For research exempt or out of scope of ethics requirements, data management planning process will still apply and although researchers will not have to complete a full ethics application in REMS, they will need to complete data management questions.

Contacts

For further support on completing a DMP please contact:

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