Top of page
Global Site Navigation

Research Intranet - For Research Staff

Local Section Navigation
You are here: Main Content

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.

ECU Staff and student now have two pathways available to create a DMP:

  • For new projects, consistent with our ethics procedures at ECU, all new research must first be tested through the Research Ethics Management System (REMS) to determine if ethical review is required;
    • If you do not work with humans or their data, or if your research involves animals, you will be taken to a new data management application page to create a data management plan prior to receiving an exempt or out of scope notification from REMS. A PowerPoint presentation walkthrough of this process is available here (please note there is no sound on the presentation); or
    • If ethical review is required for your study, your data management plan will form part of your full ethics application. A PowerPoint presentation walkthrough of this process is available here (please note there is no sound on the presentation)
  • For existing or complete projects, researchers can continue to access a stand-alone data management plan through the existing Microsoft Form available 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 100GB and collective storage volume per site collection of 1TB.
  • 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 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.

Research DescriptionRetention Period
Research involving humans or animals that utilise high risk materials (teratogens, carcinogens, ionising radiation or dangerous drugs).50 Years
Research involving clinical trials.25 Years
Research involving children under the age of 18 years old, must be kept until the children have reached 25 years of age.Birth year of thee youngest participant + 25 years
All other research.7 Years

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

Data Management Plan Frequently Asked Questions

After completing and submitting the online Microsoft form or an ethics approval, you will receive email confirmation of the Data Management Plan (DMP) which will also be forwarded to the Information Management and Archive Services (IMAS) Team to create your digital storage space. You will receive a Microsoft generated email and access to the SharePoint space can be gained through Microsoft Teams. Your research records can then be uploaded to the files tab in the Team or you can open the view directly in SharePoint.

Other members of your research team who may also require access can then be added.

IT and the Library will also be notified and will make contact with you if you have any atypical storage requirements or any open access requirements.

When using the ECU provisioned SharePoint storage, a small number of staff who are responsible for the management of ECU information and the spaces it resides, have access to the research information. As ECU employees, they are bound by ECU policy and the University Code of Conduct to protect the confidentiality of any information they would potentially have access to. These small number of staff only access the SharePoint sites if you need assistance, or when your data are ready for retention at the end of your project.

This is accepted as standard practice by ECU’s Research Ethics Committees so there is no need to stipulate individuals in these roles as part of your ethics application.

When your DMP is created, you (and if you are a student, your Principal Supervisor) will automatically become the ‘owner’ of the storage space that is created for you. As such, you are in control of who has access to your research project Team space. Simply click the three dots next to your team name and click ‘Manage team’. You can then add or remove group members as required, including people external to ECU.

As per the ECU Research Data Management Policy, when a researcher leaves the University, the original research data must remain at the University. If a researcher wishes to continue to use the research data after leaving ECU, the researcher may take a copy of the data, upon approval from their Executive Dean.

Any subsequent research publications and other outputs which are generated after leaving ECU, must acknowledge ECU’s contribution to the output. Similarly, if any University researchers wish to utilise the data generated at the University, any subsequent research publications and other outputs must acknowledge the original researcher.

We recommend all current research projects have a data management plan in place. Not only does this ensure that you are meeting your responsibilities under the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research, completion of the DMP will automatically notify the appropriate service centres at ECU (eg: IT, IMAS and the Library) who will  take the necessary actions to ensure the storage, retention, reuse and access of the research data is supported for the remainder of the research project and throughout the retention period specified in the State Records Act. If your study is in progress or complete, the Microsoft Form DMP can be accessed here.

This would usually be your estimated project end date, the time when you have completed collection and analysis of your data and the documents and data are ready for archiving and/or sharing.

Leading up to this date IMAS will contact you to establish if you are ready for your data and records to be archived If you have indicated that your data can be shared, staff from the Library Services Centre will also be in touch around this date.

If you are not ready to archive or share your data at this point, don’t worry. You can change your retention ready date at any time by contacting IMAS at imas@ecu.edu.au

By using this ECU provisioned SharePoint space, your research is not only stored securely during your research project, it will also be securely managed by the IMAS team after the completion of your research, in accordance with the State Records Act. Ongoing retention needs will be addressed, your research will be accessible to those who need it across any device in any location, and appropriate metadata is captured to facilitate the ongoing management of your research data.

There are many advantages of using SharePoint to manage your research records:

  • Secure: Our Office365 environment has the required ISO certifications that provide us with 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 100GB and collective storage volume per site collection of 1TB;
  • Support for collaboration: SharePoint enables the nominated Investigator(s) to share data with internal and external collaborators from the SharePoint platform; and
  • 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 compliance requirements.

If you have an ECU provisioned Box space that you are currently using, IMAS can assist you in moving your records across to SharePoint. Alternatively, you can continue to use Box, when your project is complete and the data is retention ready, IMAS will assist in moving your data into the new SharePoint environment.

The pre-defined top-level folder structure in your storage space is standardised to facilitate the ongoing management of your research data. You are welcome to create subfolders within these folders if you wish, but we ask that you do not save information outside of that structure.

If you require more information about what information should be captured within each of these folders see the Research Project File Structure.

ECU no longer recommend the use of Box or Dropbox and ask researchers to consider the benefits of using centrally provisioned data storage space through SharePoint (see Storage and Security accordion above). If you or your funder have additional compliance requirements which drives the need for alternative storage arrangements, please set out the justification in your data management plan.

SharePoint allows the storage of a wide range of file types, individual file size up to 100GB and collective storage volume per site collection of 1TB.

It is important your non-digital data is protected and kept as safe and secure as is practicable during the course of your research. Hardcopy records such as surveys or logbooks need to be retained if they support the final outcomes of your research project. If you indicate you have hardcopy data to manage in your DMP, IMAS will be in touch to discuss how they can support you in securely managing and retaining these data during the active research phase and while being retained at the conclusion of the research project.

The Research Services Pre-Award team can assist you with your grant development prior to submission. They can be contacted at Research-Preaward@ecu.edu.au

The information below can be used or adapted in your research grant application to demonstrate how you will manage your research data.  This wording reflects the formal policy position of the University pertaining to data and records management.

Suggested wording:

In line with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018), and ECU’s Research Data Management Policy, a Data Management Plan will be created at the commencement of the project.  This plan will outline the data characteristics, storage and security of the data, retention requirements and any potential access and reuse of the data in the future.  The DMP will trigger provision of secure Microsoft SharePoint storage for the data during the project.  The DMP will also allow ECU to manage the data collected as part of this project securely and in line with all institutional, state and national policies and guidelines as well as the agreements in place between all research partners.

What happens once you submit your Data Management Plan?

When your plan is submitted, you will be emailed a link to a unique Microsoft Team which will include SharePoint digital data storage file space in the Files tab. You can then add any other members of your research team who may also require access to the information. Your research records can then be uploaded.

IT Services and the Library will also be notified and will make contact with you if you have any atypical storage requirements or any open access requirements.

Contacts

For further support on completing a DMP please contact:

Skip to top of page