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Research Data Management

The Laurier Library provides research data services to help investigators improve their research data practices and meet their grant-based obligations. These include data management planning, consultation and training, data curation services, and publication in our data repository, Borealis.

What is Research Data Management?

Research data are data that are used as primary and secondary sources to support research and scholarship, and are used as evidence to validate or replicate research findings (CODATA).

Research data management (RDM) refers to the organization and management of data through the entire research lifecycle, from project planning and through the active phase of collection, analysis and publication, to archiving and dispossession. Research data management aims to ensure reproducible, verifiable results, and permit new research based on existing information (Whyte & Tedds, 2011).

Good RDM practices utilize a framework of principles and standards to improve data collection, curation, security, archiving, publication, and dispossession activities. These principles include:

This is in keeping with the Tri-Agency expectation that research be “conducted to the highest professional and disciplinary standards . . . [that] support research excellence by ensuring that research is performed ethically and makes good use of public funds, experiments and studies are replicable, and research results are as accessible as possible.” (Tri-Agency statement).

Training and Consultation

The Library offers training and consultation services for research data management, including workshops, webinars, and in-person meetings with labs, classes, and departments. Topics include:

  • Introduction to Research Data Management
  • The Tri-Agency Research Data Management framework
  • Data Management Plans (workshop can include writing the DMP)
  • Data Deposit and Data Archiving
  • Data Curation
  • Formatting Data in Excel
  • Developing a Data Policy
Data Management Planning

The Library provides one-on-one Data Management Planning (DMP) services to Laurier researchers with our DMP Assistant. These services help researchers articulate their data management methodologies and satisfy DMP-related requirements from Tri-Agency and other granting bodies.

The structure and content of a DMP is dependent on your field, research program, as well as DMP requirements from stakeholders such as grant agencies, Indigenous research partners, research ethics boards, and community collaborators. All DMPs usually articulate:

  • how data is collected or created
  • how data and your files are organized and described
  • your data's file types and formats, as well as any software or hardware dependencies
  • your data storage and backup procedures and locations
  • your file access, sharing, and transfer requirements and procedures
  • your sensitive data handling procedures
  • your expected plans for data archiving and disposal

Researchers can contact the Library to begin a DMP consultation, before during, or after a grant application.

Sensitive Data Toolkit

The Laurier Library recommends the Digital Research Alliance of Canada's Sensitive Data Toolkit to help researchers assess the level of risk associated with their data management practices for sensitive data, especially research with human participant data. This workbook, which is based on the Toolkit's Human Participant Data Risk Matrix, can inform your data management planning activities.

The Toolkit does not supersede recommendations and requirements issued by a Research Ethics Board or related bodies. Please consult directly with REB for advice on your ethics applications.


Data Handling Best Practices

Research data, especially sensitive research data, should be stored and used in a secure environment and transferred through secure means only to team members whose accounts are known and trusted. Laurier ICT provides secure protocols through its OneDrive, VPN, and identity management systems. Researchers can submit an ICT Research IT consultation request for support. Researchers whose projects include human participants must submit an ethics review to the Research Ethics Board as part of their grant application process, which will include data management considerations. In all cases, a data management plan (DMP) may help researchers identify their data handling needs.

  1. Where to put your sensitive data (Storage)

Personally identifiable information (PII) should be stored in a different location from its associated research data.

  • Physical copies of PII should be held in a different location from physical copies of its data.
  • Similarly, PII stored in an approved cloud storage facility should be held in a different location (system, drive, folder) from its data.
  • Access to PII should be limited to prevent leakage through copying, malware attacks, lost devices, etc.
  • Do not store sensitive data or your own research data in your personal cloud storage services (e.g., a personal DropBox, Google Drive, etc.)

Laurier Options:

  • In most cases, Laurier’s Microsoft OneDrive will meet your file storage requirements for sensitive data.
  • Locally held sensitive data (e.g., data to be stored on a hard drive) should be stored on a device that is distinct from your operating system. Using a secured, separate or portable hard drive will help keep your sensitive data isolated from your other files, and it will make data destruction and hard drive formatting easier when you reach your data disposal phase.
  1. How to connect to your sensitive data (VPNs)

Researchers working with sensitive data should connect to these files either on the Laurier network or through Laurier’s Virtual Private Network (VPN). Avoid wifi connections without VPNs. Do not use open wifi networks at all.

  • Using a VPN helps ensure that the connection between your computer and Laurier’s network is secure from external attacks
  • 3rd party VPNs should not be used in place of the Laurier VPN.

Laurier Options:

  • Researchers should follow ICT’s steps to install VPN services on their personal computers at this link
  1. How to secure your files (Encryption)

Files should be encrypted to secure your data.

  • Files can be lost or even stolen through malware attacks, user authorization mistakes, misplaced or stolen hard drives and flashdrives, and more. Most computers have sufficient encryption software to prevent the opening or reading of files that may have been lost or stolen.

Laurier Options:

  • Personal Computers:
    • Most Laurier researchers will be able to encrypt their data with tools packaged with their Windows and Mac systems:
      • Windows users can use BitLocker, which is packaged with their Windows OS.
      • Mac users can use FileVault, which is packaged with their OS X
      • Linux users should contact ICT for support
  • Portable Hard drives and USB flashdrives
    • Portable hard drives can be encrypted with BitLocker or FileVault 
    • USB flashdrives should not be used to store sensitive data. If you must use a flashdrive, be sure to encrypt it and protect it with a password
  • Smartphones and tablets
    • Do not store or link to sensitive data on smartphones and tablets
    • Smartphones or tablets that can link to non-sensitive research data should by protected by biometric and multi-factor authentication access protocols
  1. How to transfer your files

Sensitive data should be transferred sparingly. If file transfer is required, secure methods must be used. Do not use email. Do not use USB flashdrives.

  • Sensitive data should be transferred to devices on the Laurier network or connected to the Laurier VPN.
  • Ideally, researchers should transfer files using Laurier OneDrive’s sharing and transfer functions. These functions improve security by initiating the file transfer via the Laurier network and not your local computer; the transfer is mediated by the network and access will be granted only to users you approve.

Laurier Options

  • In most cases, researchers with sensitive data should store this data on the campus OneDrive system and use OneDrive to transfer the data. The OneDrive system will safeguard your data transfer and user account requirements.
  • The OneDrive system facilitates data transfer between Laurier researchers as well as external co-investigators whose user accounts are trusted by Laurier through the Microsoft OneDrive system. This includes co-investigators at many Canadian universities as well as users who can confirm their identity through Microsoft’s service.
  1. How to destroy your data

Research data that must be stored locally should ideally have been held in a secured, separate or portable hard drive. This means a different hard drive that is different from the hard drive that holds your operating system. These hard drives must be thoroughly formatted at the data disposal phase to ensure no remnants of your data remain.

  • Data that is stored on the OneDrive network will be securely erased via automated functions over time 
  • Researchers should take special care to destroy all copies and all backups when deletion is required.   
  • Researchers should perform a destruction audit for any team members who are leaving a project, including HQP and grad students. 
    • Windows 10 users should remove files and clean the drive when formatting
    • Mac users should conduct a secure erase of the drive when formatting
    • Linux users should consult with ICT. 
Data Publication

Data Deposit and Curation (Data Publishing)

The Library publishes research data produced by Laurier researchers with Borealis. Research data submitted to Borealis is curated by the Library, provided a DOI, and made findable on public and scholarly search engines.  Backup procedures includes storage in 3 different locations on 2 different media. Unlike many other repositories, there is no direct cost to researchers.

Who can submit data to Borealis?

  • Researchers associated with Laurier may submit data to our Dataverse repository. This includes faculty, grad students, research associates, post-doctoral fellows, and other highly qualified personnel.
  • Borealis can also be used by research labs to strengthen their data legacy by creating a repository of its data.

What kind of data can be published on Borealis (deposit criteria)?

  • Borealis accepts processed findings, data associated with publication, historical data, and data associated with PhD dissertations and Master’s theses.
  • All data submitted to Borealis must be open and be in a benchmarked state.  Files must be under 3GB in size and be clear of sensitivities.
  • Laurier researchers can read our full deposit criteria here

How do I submit data to Borealis?

Who do I contact for Borealis support?

Contact Us

For research data management and data management planning support or training, contact Research Data Services.

Page Owner: Ruby Lindsay

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Last Updated: April 30, 2024 4:57pm