Research Data Management Strategy


Research Data Management (RDM) is recognized as an integral part of research excellence. Effective RDM helps ensure research is conducted to the highest professional and disciplinary standards, that it is performed ethically and efficiently, that experiments and studies are replicable, and that research results are as accessible as possible.

Durham College (DC) offers support to its researchers throughout the research life cycle including managing their research data.  To strengthen this support and provide best practices for the management of research data, the College has created this strategy document. The RDM strategy is intended to develop capacity at the college in order to raise awareness and support researchers in following the FAIR principles (Wilkinson et al, 2016) to make research data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, while also following the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance (Carroll et al, 2020) that consider collective benefit, authority to control, responsibility, and ethics surrounding research data.

Canada’s federal granting agencies, which include the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), promote and support research, research training, knowledge transfer, and innovation. This RDM strategy complies with the requirements of the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy as well as the Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management.  The Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy was created to “support Canadian research excellence by promoting sound RDM and data stewardship practices”.  The Policy requires that:

  • the college post an RDM strategy online by March 1, 2023;
  • researchers develop Data Management Plans for their research projects as a best practice and requirement for specific grants starting spring 2022;
  • the college provide infrastructure for data deposit (deadline TBD).


In light of the above and in line with DC’s Strategic Plan, Strategic Research Plan, and the Responsible Conduct of Research Policy, the college created an RDM Working Group in 2020. The RDM Working Group is responsible for drafting the College’s institutional RDM strategy, in compliance with requirements of the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, followed by consultations with DC research stakeholders to further develop the strategy and build on initial activities. Members will also plan and execute activities to raise awareness of RDM among the college community. Working group members have been devoting time to professional development in the area of RDM to support the creation of this strategy as well as planned resources and tools. Membership includes representatives from the following functional areas:

  • Campus Library
  • Centre for Teaching and Learning
  • First Peoples Indigenous Centre
  • IT Services
  • Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE)
  • Records Manager
  • Research Coordinators (faculty members)
  • Research Ethics Board

Importance of Research Data and Research Data Management

RDM enables researchers to organize, store, access, reuse and build upon digital research data. RDM is essential to Canadian researchers’ capacity to securely preserve and use their research data throughout their research projects, reuse their data over the course of their careers and, when appropriate, share their data. Furthermore, as an acknowledged component of research excellence, strong RDM practices support researchers in achieving scientific rigor and enable collaboration in their fields (Tri-Agency RDM Policy FAQ).

Objective and Scope

This RDM strategy applies to all DC faculty, staff, students, and external partners who are involved in research activities with the college. The objective of the strategy is to provide a road map highlighting ways in which the College will share knowledge and best practices to strengthen RDM across disciplines, throughout the research life cycle of our projects. The strategy will involve engaging our research community to raise awareness of the importance of RDM, develop capacity, assess institutional readiness for RDM and develop RDM resources tailored to the needs of our researchers. We are committed to aligning these activities with the principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as outlined in the Dimensions Charter of which the College is a proud signatory.

Indigenous Data Considerations

The Tri-Agency RDM Policy states that:

“data related to research by and with the First Nations, Métis, or Inuit whose traditional and ancestral territories are in Canada must be managed in accordance with data management principles developed and approved by these communities, and on the basis of free, prior and informed consent. This includes, but is not limited to, considerations of Indigenous data sovereignty, as well as data collection, ownership, protection, use, and sharing.”

DC will adhere to First Nations’ OCAP® principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possession when it comes to First Nations’ data collection, protection, use and sharing. The OCAP® principles mean that First Nations control data collection processes in their communities, and that they own, protect and control how their information is used. The RDM Working Group members are committed to developing their capacity around OCAP® principles and are prioritizing a training workshop for members on this topic. Representatives from the First Peoples Indigenous Centre and the Research Ethics Board are a vital part of the RDM Working Group and will further support the group to build capacity and knowledge regarding Indigenous data considerations. The Working Group (and potential sub-groups) will create and/or identify specific resources that will support DC researchers whose work involves Indigenous data. We will seek out guidance and best practices while ensuring engagement occurs with Indigenous stakeholders with care and respect.


Key stakeholders in the development and implementation of this strategy are included in the RDM Working Group membership listed above. We recognize the importance of engaging with the broader research community and will do so through our strategic activities. ORSIE representatives meet monthly with Research Coordinators (RCs) from each Faculty and will provide updates on strategy initiatives and invite feedback and sharing of information via the RCs with their faculties.  ORSIE will also make use of other channels at the college to share information and invite feedback such as our e-bulletin, internal webpage, surveys, electronic announcements, faculty professional development events and digital media signage.

Strategy and Roadmap

  1. Raise awareness and build capacity
Objective Activity
Recruit DC champions to promote the value of RDM RDM Working Group formed in 2020
RDM Working Group members to participate in external training opportunities on RDM Heads of Applied Research RDM webinar series (funded by Compute Ontario).

Digital Research Alliance of Canada webinars.

RDM Working Group members to participate in external training on OCAP® Principles Training has been requested from the First Nations Information Governance Centre.
Develop RDM resources Working Group will create various FAQs/tip sheets including RDM, DMPs, data storage and security; archiving.

Update and enhance Library RDM Guide and the ORSIE RDM webpage on ICE.

Indigenous Data Considerations Ensure information and resources specific to Indigenous data are identified and made available to DC research community.
Consult and engage with research stakeholders Pilot resources with Research Coordinators and active researchers and integrate feedback.
Develop RDM communication strategy Determine what, how and when to disseminate RDM information, resources and tools as they become available.

Options to disseminate include: social media, ORSIE Extract (monthly e-bulletin), Research Coordinators, library web page, internal DC website (ICE), DC e-announcements, DC on campus digital media, Fundamentals of Applied Research workshop series.

Direct communication to current and potential researchers.


Provide RDM training to researchers, staff and students Library currently offers workshops for researchers, including students and staff, covering RDM Best Practices and DMP creation.

Research Coordinators/ORSIE to identify additional needs and develop workshops/information sessions while engaging input/expertise from the library.

Curate resources that already exist including self directed training options.



  1. Assess and support institutional readiness
Objective Activity
Investigate current faculty researcher practices on data management


ORSIE and Research Coordinators conducted a faculty researcher survey (Fall 2022) with plans to analyze results.
Develop a standard data management plan (DMP) template Initial work has been done by ORSIE/Research Coordinators to customize the Portage DMP Assistant template for DC researchers.

In collaboration with library, adapt template to meet needs of our researchers.


Ensure alignment with the Research Ethics Board application process.


Provide guidance and support for DC researchers choosing appropriate data repository and offer training.


Host a Borealis data repository (for research data up to 2GB); additionally, explore the use of Lunaris (formerly FRDR) for larger datasets.

Provide training as needed.

Clarify levels of access/confidentiality.

Consult with library to explore additional repositories of use to our researchers.


Raise awareness of institutional repository for research publications and related assets.


DScholar is our institutional repository.

Communicate this directly to researchers.

Provide training on uploading procedure and benefits of using the repository.

Create an ideal state for RDM in which researchers are aware of the supports available for effective research data management practices and accessing data management planning tools, repositories, and resources. ORSIE lead.

Library supports training.

IT Services provides support on data security.


  1. Formalize RDM practices
Objective Activity
Develop an institutional policy and procedure for RDM.


Policy and procedure development.


Consider implications for related internal policies.

Strengthen networks with and learn from national groups, networks and other colleges and participate in training. Current examples include RDM Community of Practice (college library and research staff);

Heads of Applied Research;

Conferences and webinar offerings from the Digital Research Alliance of Canada and Tri-Agencies.


Oversight and Review

The RDM Working Group reports to the Executive Vice-president, Academic (EVPA). The Dean, ORSIE and an ORSIE Manager Co-Chair the Working Group and provide administrative and strategic leadership support to the activities outlined in this strategy. Progress on the strategy will be monitored annually with a progress report provided to the EVPA.


The activities outlined in this strategy will be carried out over the next two years (March 2023 – March 2025). Once completed, we will identify next steps and build on a strong foundation.

Looking Ahead

In the next five years, the college will have a robust RDM policy and procedure document in place that will act as a guide for our research stakeholders. Resources including tools and workshops will be available to support research activities at the college.

Other Relevant Strategies and Policies

DC Policies Existing DC policies that intersect with this strategy are listed below and can be found on the DC policies website here:

  • Academic Integrity
  • Acceptable Use of Information Technology
  • Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans
  • Information Management
  • Information Security
  • Intellectual Property
  • Records Management
  • Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Risk Management
  • Student Data Governance

External Policies

  • Tri-Agency RDM Policy
  • Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans(TCPS 2)

Definitions (referenced from Tri-Agency RDM Policy FAQ)

Data: Data are facts, measurements, recordings, records, or observations collected by researchers and others, with a minimum of contextual interpretation. Data may be in any format or medium taking the form of text, numbers, symbols, images, films, video, sound recordings, pictorial reproductions, drawings, designs or other graphical representations, procedural manuals, forms, diagrams, workflows, equipment descriptions, data files, data processing algorithms, software, programming languages, code, or statistical records.

Data Management Plan: A data management plan (DMP) is a living document, typically associated with an individual research project or program that consists of the practices, processes and strategies that pertain to a set of specified topics related to data management and curation. DMPs should be modified throughout the course of a research project to reflect changes in project design, methods, or other considerations.

DMPs guide researchers in articulating their plans for managing data; they do not necessarily compel researchers to manage data differently.

Metadata: “Metadata” are data that define and describe the characteristics of other data. Accurate and relevant metadata are essential for making research data findable. A principle to help determine what information should be included in metadata is the open archival information system model criterion that the information be “independently understandable.” “Independently understandable” means enough information has been provided in the metadata for someone else to be able to understand the data set without needing its creator explain it.

There are many metadata standards (often referred to as “schemas”) prescribing how to treat metadata, and they vary greatly across disciplines. However, metadata generally state who created the data and when, and include information on how the data were created, their quality, accuracy and precision, and other features necessary to enable discovery, understanding and reuse.

Research: Research is an undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry and/or systematic investigation. (Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans – TCPS2)

Research Data: Research data are data that are used as primary sources to support technical or scientific enquiry, research, scholarship, or creative practice, and that are used as evidence in the research process and/or are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings and results. Research data may be experimental data, observational data, operational data, third party data, public sector data, monitoring data, processed data, or repurposed data. What is considered relevant research data is often highly contextual, and determining what counts as such should be guided by disciplinary norms.

Research Data Lifecycle: The data lifecycle includes phases from data creation, processing, analysis, preservation, storage and access, to sharing and reuse (where appropriate), at which point the cycle begins again.

Research Data Management: Research data management (RDM) refers to the processes applied through the lifecycle of a research project to guide the collection, documentation, storage, sharing and preservation of research data.

RDM is essential throughout the data lifecycle. Data management should be practiced over the entire lifecycle of the data, including planning the investigation, conducting the research, backing up data as it is created and used, disseminating data, and preserving data for the long term after the research investigation has concluded.

Comments or questions can be directed to:

Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Carroll, S.R., Garba, I., Figueroa-Rodríguez, O.L., Holbrook, J., Lovett, R., Materechera, S., Parsons, M., Raseroka, K., Rodriguez-Lonebear, D., Rowe, R., Sara, R., Walker, J.D., Anderson, J. and Hudson, M., 2020. The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance. Data Science Journal, 19(1), p.43. DOI:

First Nations Information Governance Centre. The First Nations Principles of OCAP®, accessed February 2, 2023

Government of Canada 2019, Dimensions: equity, diversity and inclusion Canada, accessed February 6, 2023,

Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, accessed January 26, 2023

Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, Frequently Asked Questions, accessed January 26, 2023

Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans – TCPS 2 (2022), accessed February 2, 2023

Wilkinson, M., Dumontier, M., Aalbersberg, I. et al. The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Sci Data 3, 160018 (2016).