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Research Data Management Guide: Introduction

Research Data

Research data includes observations about the world that are used, on the one hand, as primary sources to support scientific and technical research, research in the humanities and social sciences, and research-creation, and, on the other, as evidence in the research process.

Research data can take different forms, such as:

  • Text files;
  • Audio recordings;
  • Completed survey questionnaires;
  • Image or video databases.

Research Data Management

This process involves the on-going tracking of data throughout its lifecycle.

This means organizing data during collection, documentation, and secure storing; using the best data preservation methods; and sharing data ethically, all of which are components of research data management. To achieve this, a data management plan (DMP) is required.

Why Manage Research Data?

An increasing number of research funding agencies and scholarly publications are asking researchers to manage their research data in an exemplary manner, preserve it, and make it as accessible as possible. To that end, Canada’s three research agencies (SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR) have adopted a Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management, with which funding recipients should familiarize themselves.

However, good research data management enables research teams to establish a common foundation to avoid certain problems such as data loss, unauthorized communication of sensitive information, or transfer problems between team members.

Efficient data management in the context of remote access
  • Good data management means planning for and providing the necessary authorizations that will allow the research team to access the right data at the right time, wherever team members may be.
  • Collaborative software enable remote teamwork, but understanding their consequences on information confidentiality, data security, and budget planning is imperative.
Exclusive access to data for a reasonable period of time
  • It is possible to control access to certain data as research progresses and, in some cases, it may be reasonable to allow for a period of exclusive use of specific data, in accordance with the legitimate conditions of a partner or scholarly publication.
  • The rules of the main research funding agencies normally limit this embargo to 12 months after the publication of the article.
Protection of confidential information and compliance with research ethics policies 
  • Assessing the risk of confidential information leaks facilitates the use of an anonymization procedure or controlled access processes.
  • Good planning makes it easier to determine what can and must be shared, but above all to identify what cannot and must not be shared!  
Security and conservation of data
  • Using adequate procedures prevents data loss and damage.
  • Furthermore, secure access to data is ensured for many years.
Extended use of data for various projects
  • Good research data management (including good documentation and metadata that is compatible with international best practices) allows for the reproduction and validation of research results, promotes reuse for the development of new knowledge, and avoids duplication of research work!
Visibility and impact of research
  • Access to research data in an online repository makes it easier for other researchers to use the research results and increases the number of references and citations to the work that has been made available.


This research guide is based on Université Sainte-Anne’s Guide sur la gestion des données de recherche.