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Managing Research Data @MQ

Guidance on Management of Research Data at Macquarie University

Researcher's Responsibilities

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research requires that all researchers:

Retain clear, accurate, secure and complete records of all research including research data and primary materials, [and] where possible and appropriate, allow access and reference to these by interested parties.’

Applying the principles found in the Australian Code protects you and your research. Furthermore, the guidelines outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research will help you produce more reliable data that can be re-used now and across your career:

In the absence of justifiable ethical reasons... and to promote access to the benefits of research, researchers should collect and store data or information ...in such a way that they can be used in future research projects...’

Researchers must complete a Data Management Plan before the commencement of their research. This Data Management Plan must outline how research data will be stored, secured and retained in line with the Research Code, the National Statement and the Macquarie University Research Data Management Policy.

 

Australian Research Council
Since 2021, the Australian Research Council (ARC) has required funding applications for National Competitive Grants to have a completed Data Management Plan before a project starts. This is to ensure that researchers are addressing the responsibilities as outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

What is a Data Management Plan (DMP)?

A Data Management Plan (DMP) records key aspects of your data management intentions (what data you will be working with, who will be working on it with you and what you will do with the data during and after a research project). It is also a living document that needs to be revised (with versions recorded) as your research project progresses. Significant changes to approach or personnel, for example, should be recorded, as should milestones like dataset archiving or publication. A DMP helps ensure that your research data are accurate, complete, reliable, and secure both during and after you complete your research. 

Within your DMP, you are expected to outline how research data will be handled during research and after the project is completed, how data will be shared, how it will be preserved, what technologies will be used, and the who is responsible for ensuring the data is managed as indicated.

DMPs at Macquarie are created and administered using the online DMP Portal in FoRA app and include:

  • general project details, including personnel who will have access to the data and any agreements about ownership of the data between collaborators
  • data governance, including external collaborations and data custodianship
  • data characteristics, including the source of data
  • data sensitivity, including selection of appropriate systems for storage and collection
  • data organisation and documentation, including the approach to metadata management
  • data retention and dissemination, including plans for publication of data and any necessary restrictions

Planning for each stage of the data lifecycle

The lifecycle of data is longer than a project’s lifecycle. A DMP must therefore be developed early in the project and updated at key points throughout. The diagram below shows some of the key data curation considerations encountered across the different phases of a research project.

QUICK GUIDE

DMPs evolve with your project, declaring not just what you plan to do at the start, but what you actually do over the course of your research. Keeping your plan up-to-date as the situation changes is more important that making it perfect at the beginning. At Macquarie University, a DMP system is provided with default pathways for data curation. This is to help researchers be compliant with privacy and security expectations and promote good practice; accepting the ‘default’ recommendations will make writing your DMP easier, but if your circumstances require, you can change most aspects of the DMP (with justification, and so long as the changes do not contravene requirements).

Who needs to complete a DMP, and when?

EVERYONE needs to plan their research data management. The DMP Portal in FoRA is one way to record that plan, and during 2021 to 2023, Macquarie University will require a DMP be lodged online in FORA for several cohorts.

The Macquarie University approach to DMPs is that we provide you with a pathway that encapsulates good practice and minimises risk for most projects. If you accept these defaults, you will be able to complete your DMP very quickly. Adhering to them will ensure that you are compliant with Macquarie University Policies (which implement relevant legislative requirements) and ensure that your Data curation is aligned with good practice. You can, of course, propose variations, but you must ensure they comply with the Research Data Management Policy, and you must provide a justification.
 

Researchers applying for HREC approval

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2018) makes it clear that all researchers applying for ethics approval should develop a Data Management Plan as early as possible in the research process. This has historically been included as part of their HREC application, but the requirement for a DMP to be submitted online via the DMP Portal in FoRA in association with each HREC application will be progressively released to applicants seeking HREC approval (including High Risk and Low Risk projects). By July 2022 it is expected that everyone applying to a Macquarie University Human Research Ethics committee (HREC) for approval will be submitting their DMP in FoRA. Any proposed variations to the DMP of a project that has already gained Human Ethics approval must be requested following the standard processes for an amendment. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure that appropriate approval is obtained for all amendments prior to its implementation.

 

Researchers in receipt of external Category 1 grant funding

Many external grants require the production of a DMP either as part of the application or when funding is awarded. Examples include most European Union grants, UK Research Councils grants, US National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities grants, and many private funders (e.g., the Sloan Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Welcome Trust, etc.).

Researchers being awarded funding (granted from 2020 onwards) from the Australian Research Council (ARC) or the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will require a detailed DMP in place prior to release of their funds.  

 

Higher Degree Research Students 

From January 2022, newly commencing Higher Degree Research Students should complete a DMP in the first 6 months of their candidature or before their confirmation of candidature (whichever occurs first), unless they are already listed on an existing DMP for their project (for example by their Supervisor or as part of a HREC application). HDR candidates must update their DMP at the same time as their Annual Progress Report each year, and again after they submit their thesis for examination, but before graduating.  

How to complete your DMP

Macquarie University has an online DMP Portal in the Forms for Research Applications (FoRA) system. This portal provides a location where you can construct and lodge a DMP and receive tailored advice or suggestions from the Digitally Enabled Research Team, from the relevant HREC, or from HDR Supervisors . DMPs should be updated regularly.

The remaining sections of these guides contain useful information relevant to Data Management Planning.

The DMP User Guide provides detailed help in completing your Data Management Plan, with a description of each section in the DMP, along with some example answers that are based on best practice approaches and cover a range of disciplines.

If you need more specific help or assistance after undertaking the online training module in WorkDay and referring to this online guidance, you can contact the Digitally Enabled Research team by sending an email to eresearch@mq.edu.au. Those requiring help with their DMPs may also raise a ticket via OneHelp

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