Knowledgebase: Research
Research Data Management - Overview
Updated: 24 November 2020 01:35 PM




Research Data Management (RDM)  refers to the creation, storage, access and preservation of data produced from a given investigation.

Good data management practice allows reliable verification of results and permits new and innovative research built on existing information. This is important if the full value of public investment in research is to be realized. Canadian Government policies are in the process of being developed and at November 17, 2020 the DRAFT Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy represents the latest guidance on digital data management strategies, concepts and techniques for Canadian researchers.

DRAFT Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy

RDM helps ensure the protection of data during a research project and beyond, helping to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of good research ethics and reproducibility.


What is Research Data?

  • Primary sources supporting research, scholarship or artistic endeavours
  • Can be used as evidence to validate findings and results
  • May take the form of experimental data, observational data, operational data, third party data, public sector data, monitoring data, processed data, or repurposed data
  • All other digital and non-digital content has the potential to become research data


The Research Data Lifecycle

Plan > Create > Process > Analyze > Disseminate > Preserve > Reuse

Research data management involves the active organization and maintenance of data throughout the research process, and suitable archiving of the data at the project’s completion. It is an on-going activity throughout the data lifecycle.

Plan: Planning can include reviewing existing data sources, addressing informed consent, considering costs, and preparing a plan.

Create: Researchers produce data (experiment, observation, measurement, simulation) and/or collect and organize third-party data and materials. Metadata and related materials are captured and created.

Process: Data is converted to digital format (transcribed, converted, digitized, curated) according to quality assurance standards. Data is checked, validated, cleaned, recoded, versioned, and as needed, anonymized. All these processes are documented, and the data is described using the appropriate discovery metadata standard.

Analyze: Data is interpreted and analyzed to produce research findings, publications, and intellectual outputs. Data sources are cited.

Disseminate: Access rights are confirmed (ethics and intellectual property considerations). The data, along with user documentation and metadata, are made accessible, e.g. on a public domain server, or in a controlled repository.

Preserve: Data is saved to formats that conform to curation best practices, user documents and discovery metadata are created, a Digital Object Identifier (i.e. DOI) is added and data is linked to any published products, consideration is given to Security and Intellectual Property.

Reuse: Potentially useful data, user documentation and metadata are located and obtained. Secondary analysis is conducted after any necessary data transformations are complete. Transformations are documented and data sources are cited.



Data Management Planning and the DMP Assistant

DMP Assistant is a Canadian bilingual tool for preparing Data Management Plans (DMPs). The tool follows best practices in data stewardship and walks researchers step-by-step through key questions about data management.

DMP Assistant is designed to meet the Data Management Plan recommendations of these Canadian funders:

Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)


This guide will help you plan and organize your research and to meet research funder requirements. 


Portage provides a collection of guides to assist researchers.


Research Ethics Board (REB) & Research ethics policy

Any OCAD U research that involves living human participants or human biological materials (whether from living or deceased individuals) must be reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Board (REB) of the university. Find out more about this important aspect of research at OCAD University.


Research Data Storage

The link below provides details of commonly used research data storage systems available to researchers at OCAD University.



Physical security

With a number of simple measures you can ensure the physical security of your research data:

lock your computer when leaving it for just a moment (Windows key + L)
lock your door if you are not in your room
keep an eye on your laptop
transport your USB stick or external hard disk in such a way that you cannot lose it
keep non-digital material which should not be seen by others, in a locked cupboard or drawer

Virtual security

The computer you use to consult, process and store your data, must be secured:

use a firewall
install anti-virus software
install updates for the operating system and software
use only secured wireless networks
use passwords and do not share them with anyone



Encryption is the process of encoding digital information in such a way that only authorised parties can view it. It is especially useful when you are transmitting personal or confidential data.

When you encrypt a file, the information it contains is “translated” into meaningless code. To translate this code back into meaningful information a key is required. Attacks with ransomware such as the Locky virus ("Locky", 2017) have demonstrated that recovering information from encrypted files without the key is nearly impossible. It is therefore extremely important that you do not lose the key to decrypt your files.

IMPORTANT! If you lose the the key to decrypt your files you have lost your data forever.

Do: encrypt confidential data, especially before transmitting it online, uploading it to the cloud, or transporting it on portable devices. When working in a team, make sure that the key can be accessed by everyone who needs to access it (but only those people).
Do: ensure that you do not lose the key to decrypt your files, e.g. by keeping it in a sealed envelope in a secure location such as a safe room.

Encryption software

Commonly used encryption software includes:

BitLocker is Standard on selected editions of Windows. For the encryption of disk volumes and USB devices.

FileVault2 Standard on Apple Macs. For full disc encryption.

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) Encryption utilities.

GPG free/open source (Gnu Privacy Guard (GnuPG)).

If you are unfamiliar with PGP/GPG you will want to have a look at this GPG guide.

Multi-platform encryption software (Windows, Mac and Linux). For full disk and container encryption.



Research Dissemination and Repositories

Making your research available increases exposure to your work, which can lead to increased citation of research overall. Research data are a valuable resource, usually requiring much time and money to be produced. Many data have significant value for usage beyond the original research. The ease with which digital data can be stored, disseminated and made easily accessible online to users means that many institutions are keen to share research data to increase the impact and visibility of their research. 


Open Research OCAD University Institutional Repository

Open Research ( is a digital archive managed by the OCAD University Library to collect, preserve, and distribute scholarly and creative output generated by the OCAD U community.


dataverse logo

The OCAD University Dataverse Repository

The OCAD University Dataverse is repository for non-sensitive research data collected by researchers affiliated with the University. This open source platform allows researchers to deposit, share, analyze, cite, and explore data.



Domain Repository

Repositories relevant to your research domain can be found through repository search tools which gather details for repositories, which you can filter by subject, domain and taxonomy.


Registry of Research Data Repositories "re3data"



Federated Research Data Repository (FRDR)

The FRDR is a platform for Canadian researchers to deposit and share research data, and to facilitate discovery of research data in Canadian repositories. FRDR is particularly suitable for archiving and sharing large data sets (300 GB or 25,000 files).


Which repository should I use?

Choosing where to deposit research data is a crucial matter. It highly affects its impact, reach and audience. Making the right choice leads to increased citations and data reuse.

This Data Deposit Tree provided by UBC can help you decide which type of repository you should use for your research.




Further best-practice repository advice from Jisc UK.

Choosing the right repository solution.


Further Research Resources at OCAD University

OCAD University Office of Research and Innovation


OCAD University Library

Reference & Instruction