Data Ready

La Trobe University

Data Ready background

Data Ready
La Trobe University

Data Ready background

Data Ready
La Trobe University

Data Ready background

Data Ready

Broader research data management context

It is useful to understand what is happening in research data management beyond La Trobe University, and even beyond Australia.

In addition to the legislative and policy requirements covered in the subsections of this guide, it is important for researchers to also consider research data management requirements arising from the following:

  • the data management requirements of partner organisations, particularly commercial organisations;
  • the expectations of researchers in your discipline and from other disciplines and how these might affect how you manage your data (including sharing, if possible).

Australian context

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) was jointly issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Universities Australia. It provides a framework for many aspects of research practice, including management of research data.

The Code lays out obligations for researchers and for institutions, and these guidelines reflect that shared responsibility. Institutional obligations include policies that address research data management and provision of training. The quote from the Code below summarises and explains researcher obligations around research data at a high level.

The responsible conduct of research includes the proper management and retention of the research data. Retaining the research data is important because it may be all that remains of the research work at the end of the project. While it may not be practical to keep all the primary material (such as ore, biological material, questionnaires or recordings), durable records derived from them (such as assays, test results, transcripts, and laboratory and field notes) must be retained and accessible.

The researcher must decide which data and materials should be retained, although in some cases this is determined by law, funding agency, publisher or by convention in the discipline. The central aim is that sufficient materials and data are retained to justify the outcomes of the research and to defend them if they are challenged. The potential value of the material for further research should also be considered, particularly where the research would be difficult or impossible to repeat.

The Code sets out requirements in several areas of research data management. For La Trobe University researchers, it is heartening that the University’s Policy and Procedure is closely aligned with the Code. The Code sets out the following areas of responsibility for the University:

  • retention of research data and primary materials;
  • provision of secure research data storage and record-keeping facilities;
  • identifying ownership of research data and primary materials;
  • ensuring security and confidentiality of research data and primary materials.

The Code also sets out responsibilities for researchers, as summarised below:

  • retention of research data and primary materials;
  • managing storage of research data and primary materials;
  • maintaining confidentiality of research data and primary materials.

This is a very brief overview and it is best to read the Code for a full understanding of its requirements around research data. It is also worth noting that the Code is currently under review. It is not clear at the time of writing if changes to the Code will include changes in requirements around research data management, but if changes occur they will be reflected in La Trobe University’s approach to it and the requirements for researchers.

The Public Records Act 1973 sets out requirements around records management for many organisations, and the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) sets standards for records management under the Act.

PROV publishes retention and disposal authorities (RDAs) to provide detail regarding management of records of many different types. This includes university records, and the Retention and Disposal Authority for Records of the Higher and Further Education Functions sets out specific requirements for management of various types of records associated with research.

Research data is mentioned twice in the Authority, specifically in relation to experimental results/readings, photographs and other recordings of experimental outcomes, data sheets, observations, field notes, diagrams, graphs and laboratory note books. Where the data arises from clinical trials, temporary retention and destruction 15 years from project completion is required. Where the data arises from research other than clinical trials, temporary retention and destruction 5 years from project completion is required

PROV is currently reviewing the Higher and Further Education RDA. La Trobe University is involved in the review, and we anticipate that research data will be included in the revised RDA. These guidelines will be updated accordingly.

For reference, the Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA) currently sets out the following:

CLASS NO. DESCRIPTION DISPOSAL ACTION EXAMPLE OF RECORDS
Extract from General Retention and Disposal Authority for the Records for Higher and Further Education Institutions
  RESEARCH    
24.4.0

Collection and Analysis of Data

The observation, recording and analysis of research results

   
24.4.1 Collection and Analysis of Data Not Involving Clinical Trials

Temporary

Destroy 5 years from date of completion

  • Experimental results/readings
  • Photographs and other recordings of experimental outcomes
  • Data sheets
  • Observations
  • Field notes
  • Diagrams
  • Graphs
  • Conclusions
  • Laboratory note books
24.4.2 Collection and Analysis of Data Involving Clinical Trials

Temporary

Destroy 15 years from date of completion

  • Experimental results/readings
  • Photographs and other recordings of experimental outcomes
  • Data sheets
  • Observations
  • Field notes
  • Diagrams
  • Graphs
  • Conclusions
  • Laboratory note books
24.5.0

Research Outcomes

Publication or final presentation of results of research projects.

For Honours Degree Theses see 11.4.0.

For Higher Degree Theses see 11.5.0.

   
24.5.1

High Public Interest

Those outcomes that are or become of high-interest, or the subject of widespread debate and/or contention in the public arena, usually, but not limited to, through the daily media.

Permanent
Transfer to the PROV when administrative use is concluded
  • Drafts for publication in external publications
  • Final research
24.5.2

Paradigm Shifting


Those outcomes which have or will change the commonly held view or approach, alter or vary the typical example, representative case or epitome for a subject, irrespective of whether that subject is based in the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, or any other filed in which research is conducted.

Permanent
Transfer to the PROV when administrative use is concluded
  • Drafts for publication in external publications
  • Final research reports
24.5.3

Other


Those outcomes that, while adding to the body of research in the field, do not cause or confirm a paradigm shift in the understanding, approach or epitome for a subject.

Temporary
Destroy 5 years after the conclusion of research project
  • Drafts for publication in external publications
  • Final research reports
24.6.0

Intellectual Property

The identification, registration and use of intellectual assets resulting from research programs. For the management of Intellectual Property, see Collection and Asset Management (5.0.0).

Permanent
Transfer to PROV when administrative use is concluded
  • Patent applications and documentation
  • Copyright registration and documentation

The ARC makes a number of statements about research data management. Firstly, this overarching statement on the rationale behind it:

The ARC is committed to maximising the benefits from ARC-funded research, including by ensuring greater access to research data. Since 2007, the ARC has encouraged researchers to deposit data arising from research projects in publicly accessible repositories. The ARC’s position reflects an increased focus in Australian and international research policy and practice on open access to data generated through publicly funded research.

There is also this statement around the importance of data management planning:

Since February 2014, the ARC has required researchers to outline how they plan to manage research data arising from ARC-funded research. This requirement forms part of the application process for funding under the National Competitive Grants Programme.

And a statement on what the ARC is trying to achieve with its requirements:

The ARC’s requirement is designed to encourage researchers to consider the ways in which they can best manage, store, disseminate and reuse data. Researchers, in consultation with institutions, have a responsibility to consider the management and future potential of their research data, taking into account the particular approaches, standards and uses for data that may exist in different institutions, disciplines and research projects. Some institutions may have infrastructure and/or processes in place for storing, managing and sharing data – these are valuable resources that should be utilised.

The ARC ultimately limits the mandatory elements of the research data management practices it requires:

The ARC does not require full, detailed data management plans (such as those required by some funding agencies internationally) and does not mandate open access to data.

As such, the requirements of the La Trobe University research data management procedures go further than the ARC’s requirements in that a research data management plan is mandatory.

The most recent (October 2015) NHMRC funding agreement contains the following requirements around research data management:

Provision of access to data and publications

12.9. If required by an NHMRC policy about the dissemination of research findings, the Administering Institution must deposit any publication resulting from a Research Activity, and its related data, in an appropriate subject and/or open access repository (such as the Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Inc. archive or databases listed under the National Centre for Biotechnology Information) in accordance with the timeframe and other requirements set out in that policy.

12.10. Any research outputs from a Research Activity that have been, or will be, deposited in such a repository by the due date for the Final Report for that Research Activity must be identified in that Final Report.