Canada’s three federal research funding agencies—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) —are in the process of reviewing and enhancing their data management requirements for agency-supported research. As a step in this process, the agencies have developed the Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management (2016).
The Statement outlines the agencies’ overarching expectations with regard to digital research data management, and the responsibilities of researchers, research communities, institutions and funders in meeting these expectations. It complements and builds upon existing agency policies, such as SSHRC’s Research Data Archiving Policy (1990), and will serve as a guide to assist the research community in preparing for, and contributing to the development of, tri-agency data management requirements.
The Statement can be found at www.science.gc.ca.
SSHRC is committed to the principle that the various forms of research data collected with public funds belong in the public domain. Accordingly, SSHRC has adopted a policy to facilitate making data that has been collected with the help of SSHRC funds available to other researchers. Costs associated with preparing research data for deposit are considered eligible expenses in SSHRC research grant programs. Research data includes quantitative social, political and economic data sets; qualitative information in digital format; experimental research data; still and moving image and sound databases; and other digital objects used for analytical purposes.
The purpose of this policy is to facilitate the advancement of knowledge in the social sciences and humanities by encouraging researchers to share research data. Sharing data strengthens our collective capacity to meet scholarly standards of openness by providing opportunities to further analyze, replicate, verify and refine research findings. Such opportunities enhance progress within fields of research, avoid duplication of primary collection of data, as well as support the expansion of interdisciplinary research. In addition, greater availability of research data will contribute to improved training for graduate and undergraduate students, and, through the secondary analysis of existing data, make possible significant economies of scale. Finally, researchers whose work is publicly funded have a special obligation to openness and accountability.
All research data collected with the use of SSHRC funds must be preserved and made available for use by others within a reasonable period of time. SSHRC considers "a reasonable period" to be within two years of the completion of the research project for which the data was collected.
A wide range of projects involving the collection of research data is supported by public funds. While the principle of public ownership of data should guide all decisions, SSHRC intends this policy to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate a wide variety of circumstances, where appropriate. Accordingly, given the many complexities that may arise, SSHRC recognizes that unusual and compelling circumstances may require modifications of or exemptions from this policy with respect to providing access for secondary use of research data in the public domain. For example, the protection of confidentiality may require removing identifiers from data sets, which may render the data meaningless. Nevertheless, in such cases, researchers still have an obligation to preserve and safeguard the data. Researchers are expected, however, to be aware of ethical requirements pertaining to the retention or disposal of data obtained in a research context. Please consult the 2nd edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans for more information on related conditions including consent, privacy and confidentiality, secondary use and data linkage.
When developing a research project that involves the creation of data sets, researchers should ask their postsecondary institution's or organization’s library or data service if it can preserve the data. If it cannot or if one wishes to have the data deposited at another institution, researchers could consider contacting one of the members of the Canadian Association of University Libraries to enquire about data management assistance.