In March 2021, Canada’s federal granting agencies, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC, launched the Tri-Agency Research Data Management (RDM) Policy. This policy builds on the 2016 Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management, and rests on three pillars which support the promotion of sound RDM and data stewardship practices: Institutional RDM Strategies, Data Management Plans, and Data Deposit.
The Tri-Agencies will be implementing the policy in stages over the next few years. UCalgary’s response to the policy is being led by the Office of the Vice-President (Research) and Libraries and Cultural Resources.
We are preparing for a future state in which most Tri-Agency funding opportunities will have a data management requirement, such as a formal DMP, included in their application process.
Updated February 28, 2023
UCalgary's inaugural RDM Strategy is now available. It lays out UCalgary’s commitment to supporting our research community’s use of good RDM practices in all research activities. The Strategy is also the roadmap that we will use to develop our institutional approach to RDM over the next months and years. It is a living document: it will necessarily evolve as research data management requirements, practices, and understanding evolve.
Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy
From the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy website:
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) (the agencies) are federal granting agencies that promote and support research, research training, knowledge transfer and innovation within Canada.
The agencies expect the research they fund to be conducted to the highest professional and disciplinary standards, domestically and internationally. These standards support research excellence by ensuring that research is performed ethically and makes good use of public funds, experiments and studies are replicable, and research results are as accessible as possible. Research data management (RDM) is a necessary part of research excellence.
By developing an RDM policy, the agencies aim to enable a research culture that sees:
- strong data management as an accepted signifier of research excellence across disciplines;
- more Canadian data sets cited;
- Canadian researchers recognized and rewarded for the research data they produce and share;
- Canadian researchers equipped and ready to engage in international research collaboration where data management requirements are standard practice;
- Canadian research institutions ready to support the management of the data their researchers produce; and
- increased ability for research data to be archived, discoverable and, where appropriate, reused to support links with other data and research to fuel new discovery and innovation.
Policy response timeline
The tri-agencies plan to implement the policy incrementally, as determined through ongoing engagement with the research community and other stakeholders, and in step with the continuing development of research data practices and capacity in Canada and internationally.
UCalgary will follow a similar incremental approach in the development of our RDM policy and practices on campus.
Grant application RDM pilot
Beginning in Fall 2022, the Tri-Agencies will pilot the inclusion of Data Management Plans (DMPs) in the application process for several funding opportunities.
Grants from all three agencies are included in the pilot program. UCalgary will provide support to researchers impacted by the pilot program.
By March 1, 2023, research institutions subject to this requirement must post their RDM strategies and notify the agencies when they have been completed.
UCalgary's RDM Strategy is now online.
After reviewing the institutional strategies and in line with the readiness of the Canadian research community, the agencies will phase in the deposit requirement.
UCalgary RDM Strategy Development Committees
The UCalgary response to the Tri-Agency RDM Policy is led by the Office of the Vice-President (Research) and Libraries and Cultural Resources (LCR). The response will be executed by a Working Committee, led by a Steering Committee.
Each committee includes stakeholders from the campus community best suited to advise on the UCalgary response. Both committees will seek consultation from the research community throughout the process of implementing the institutional response to the policy.
- Robert I. Thompson – AVPR
- Mary-Jo Romaniuk – Vice-Provost, Libraries and Cultural Resources
- Michael Hart – Vice-Provost/AVPR, Indigenous Engagement
- Bruce Evelyn – Vice-Provost, Planning and Resource Allocation
- Penny Pexman – AVPR
- Jenny Godley – CFREB Chair
- Stacey Page – CHREB Chair
- Trevor Poffenroth – Interim CIO
- Robin Yates – Dean and Vice-Provost, Graduate Studies
- Glenda Summers – Senior Legal Counsel, RSO
- Stephen Harris – Senior Legal Counsel, CSM
- Ayan Chanda – Postdoctoral Association Representative
- TBD – Graduate Student Association Representative
- Tiago Lier – Working Committee Co-Chair
- Susan Powelson – Working Committee Co-Chair
- Jennifer Abel – RDM Specialist
- Abdel Yousif – Representative from IT
- Pamela Hyde – Representative from VPR Communications
- Sheila Gajda – Research Ethics Coordinator, RSO
- Tiago Lier – Director, Grants, Awards and Ethics, RSO; Co-Chair
- Susan Powelson – Associate University Librarian, Technology, Discovery, and Digital Services; Co-Chair
- Jennifer Abel – RDM Specialist, RSO
- Adnan Ahmed – Director, Office of Institutional Analysis
- Kate Cawthorn – Librarian with responsibility for Digital Preservation
- Christopher Chow – Agreements Manager, RSO
- Will Fiebelkorn – Specialist, Privacy and Records, Cumming School of Medicine
- Sheila Gajda – Research Ethics Coordinator, RSO
- Heather Ganshorn – Librarian, Research Data Management
- Pam Hyde – Senior Specialist, Marketing and Communications, Office of the Vice-President (Research)
- Emma Koiston – External Grants Manager, RSO
- Linda Longpre – Research Ethics and Compliance Manager, RSO
- Nicole Ritchie – Grants Officer, Indigenous Research Support Team
- Kathryn Ruddock – Director, Digital Services
- Thomas Thomas – Manager, Systems Engineering, Research Computing Services
- Abdel Yousif – Director, Research Computing Services
2022-23 Pilot phase: Select grant applications
Beginning this fall, the Tri-Agencies will pilot the inclusion of Data Management Plans (DMPs) in the application process for several funding opportunities. DMPs are documents that describe how data will be managed during the active phases of a research project, how they will be preserved beyond the end of a project, and how they will be shared with other researchers when it is appropriate to do so.
This pilot phase is in preparation for a future state in which most Tri-Agency funding opportunities will have a data management requirement, such as a formal DMP, included in their application process.
The pilot phase will include the following funding opportunities:
- Network Grants in Skin Health and Muscular Dystrophy (Anticipated launch fall 2022 or early winter 2023)
- Virtual Care/Digital Health Team Grants (Anticipated launch fall 2022 or early winter 2023)
- Data Science for Equity (Anticipated launch fall 2022 or early winter 2023)
- Subatomic Physics Discovery Grants - Individual and Project (Anticipated launch summer 2023)
- Partnership Grants Stage 2 (Anticipated launch summer 2023)
Full information about the DMP requirements for these programs, along with information for potential reviewers, will be released at the launch of the programs. We will keep you informed about these requirements as they develop.
Note: DMPs will not be required for all Tri-Agency funding opportunities until some time after this initial pilot is completed and assessed in 2023. We will inform the campus community when the Tri-Agencies determine the next phase of implementation.
If you will be submitting a funding application for any of the above grants, please contact email@example.com for support preparing the DMP requirement. Resources are also available on the RDM Learning Resources webpage.
Support for Researchers
We recognize that UCalgary researchers and staff will be in need of additional training and professional development in order to meet the requirements of the Tri-Agency RDM policy.
In response, we are providing an expanded range of workshops and training sessions to support you as you prepare for future grant applications. The Illuminating Research Data Management webinar series will run October 2022 - April 2023. Online resources will also be expanded upon throughout the RDM policy implementation.
For information on research data management plans, processes or best practices for your research program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the RDM Learning Resources webpage for links to resources, workshop information, and an RDM glossary.
Next Illuminating RDM webinar: March 29
RDM in the Health Sciences
We’ll look at common types of data in these disciplines as well as discipline-specific tools and resources. Case examples will illustrate different approaches to data management in the health sciences.
This FAQ includes questions about how the Tri-Agency policy will apply to your research data and projects. For more information about what research data management is, please visit the RDM Learning Resources webpage.
If you’re doing research, you probably do have some kind of research data. Consider how the Tri-Agencies talk about the relationship between research material and research data:
Research materials serve as the object of an investigation, whether scientific, scholarly, literary or artistic, and are used to create research data. Research materials are transformed into data through method or practice. Examples of research materials may include bio-samples for a geneticist, primary sources in an archival fonds for an historian, or a school of zebrafish for a biologist.
Examples of research data corresponding to these materials include gene sequence data, chronological analyses of ideas and contributions, and data on the behaviour of the zebrafish under certain conditions, respectively.
In most current discussions of research data in the context of research data management, what is meant is ‘digital research data’: that is, data that are processed, analyzed, stored, and deposited or shared (when appropriate) in a digital format. Analog research data - i.e., data in a physical form, whether on paper or another type of material – should also be considered where appropriate, with the understanding that they may be more difficult to deposit in a repository or to share widely.
In some disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts, it may be more difficult to determine what your data are. In this case, think about what you as the researcher create between the material that you’re working on or with – e.g., a book, an artwork, a performance, an interview - and what you publish or disseminate as your own work. What you create in that intervening space may be research data: e.g., organized notes, different types of visualizations, themes that you’ve coded, transcripts, video recordings or images, audio recordings.
 “1c: How are research materials related to research data?”, Frequently Asked Questions: Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, last accessed February 3, 2022 at https://www.science.gc.ca/eic/site/063.nsf/eng/h_97609.html#1c
Depositing data means placing them into a digital repository, such as PRISM Dataverse, the Federated Research Data Repository, or a wide range of other repositories. Staff of the repository will work with you to ensure that the data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Retrievable (the FAIR principles).
Sharing data means making your data available for use by others, in a general sense. Depositing data in a repository can be one way of sharing data, but it’s not the only way. You could, for example, provide data to others on request, or post them on a website.
Not necessarily! There are a number of ways to make your data available to others without making them openly accessible to anyone. For example, some repositories will allow you to restrict who can access datasets (e.g., making them only available on request, or to people with institutional e-mail addresses). Having a clear data availability statement in your publications or on your website can also let people know that your data are available.
Absolutely! Including good RDM practices in your work can make a big difference in how efficient and effective your research is. The following are just a few examples of RDM practices that can help you throughout the course of a research project:
Creating consistent and transparent file and folder names, so it’s easy for you to find what you need.
Including versioning information such as dates or stages of processing in your file and folder names, so you know what (and where!) the most current version of your work is.
Creating clear documentation of data collection and analysis processes for yourself and your research. team, so that you do things consistently and can onboard new team members more easily.
Including robust metadata that describes your data well, so that you and others can understand it more easily in the future.
Backing up your data regularly and in multiple places, to prevent against data loss.
It depends on the conditions under which you collected your data.
If you’ve collected data from human participants during your research, and your participants signed a consent form, then what they consented to in the form will determine whether you can share your data. If they didn’t consent to having particular types of data being shared, or to having their data shared in a particular way, you may not be able to share it. Consult the Panel on Research Ethics’ Guidance on Depositing Existing Data in Public Repositories for more information.
If you’re working with partners outside the university – for example, partners from industry, community organizations, or Indigenous communities – your agreements with them will determine whether research data can be shared.
If you know at the beginning of a project that you’ll want to share your data at the end of the project, it’s important to ensure that you put the right conditions in place that will allow you to share your data. Work with your research partners, the Research Ethics Boards, and/or UCalgary’s research-focused legal teams in the Research Services Office or the Cumming School of Medicine to ensure that you have language in your consent forms and/or agreements that will allow you to deposit and/or otherwise share your data.
Research data repositories are online services that provide long-term preservation for research data and metadata, and make them available for discovery and use. There are a wide range of research data repositories:
- Some repositories are general, such as PRISM Data at UCalgary or the Federated Research Data Repository; others only accept data from specific research domains or disciplines.
- Some repositories require you to make your data open access, while others will allow you to control who gets access to your data.
- Some repositories charge fees, while others will provide a basic level of service for free.
Good data repositories will
- Have a mandate and plan for data preservation,
- Offer information about the data set that enables people to discover and learn about the data,
- Provide potential data users with either direct access or information on access conditions, and
- Ensure each data set has a persistent identifier (PID) that will always take people to information about the dataset and can be cited in publications.
To find a research data repository that’s right for your work, talk to your subject librarian, or use the tools and resources available on Libraries and Cultural Resources’ RDM Libguide.
The Tri-Agency's data deposit requirement is focused on digital research data: the Policy states in section 3.3 that "Grant recipients are required to deposit into a digital repository all digital research data [emphasis ours], metadata and code that directly support the research conclusions in journal publications and pre-prints that arise from agency-supported research." The Policy is also related to the 2016 Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management, which is focused entirely on digital research data.
So, while you should describe in your data management plan (DMP) how you’ll manage your physical research data, you’ll only be required to deposit your digital research data into a digital repository.