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).
The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) was jointly issued by the 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. The quote from the Code below summarises and explains researcher obligations around research data at a high level.
"Retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials. Where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference to these by interested parties."
At time of writing in 2018, the new edition of the Code had just been published. The Code will be supported by supplementary guidance on specific topics including data; these are expected to be released in late 2018.
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|
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||
Destroy 5 years from date of completion
|24.4.2||Collection and Analysis of Data Involving Clinical Trials||
Destroy 15 years from date of completion
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.
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.
Transfer to the PROV when administrative use is concluded
Transfer to the PROV when administrative use is concluded
Destroy 5 years after the conclusion of research project
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).
Transfer to PROV when administrative use is concluded
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.
Australian Research Council (ARC)
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Public records legislation and associated guidelines