Skip to main content

Research Data Management at Queen's University

Guide to Research Data Management planning

Best Practices in Data Management

Using best practices through all stages of a research project will ensure the accessibility and longevity of resulting data.

Additional Information on Best Practices

Best Practices in Data Management

Even if one is not required by your funding agency, developing a data management plan (DMP) at the beginning of a new project will inform good practice throughout the research life cycle. The following practices are fundamental to effective data management and can be applied to all disciplines:

The Data Management Plan:

  • Adhere to the guidelines set by any funding agencies and institutions that are sponsoring the research.
  • Examples of completed DMPs can be found on the Writing a Data Management Plan tab of this guide.
  • Complete your DMP early so that it will not be sidelined when you start collecting data.
  • The minimum expenses to include when calculating your data management costs are: data creation, processing, analysis, storage, sharing, and preservation. Remember that some Funding Agencies accept these costs in grant applications -- be sure to include these costs.

Data Storage:

  • To prevent data from being lost due to incompatibility, store it in formats and on hardware that are open standard, not proprietary.
Type of Data Recommended Format Formats to avoid
Plain Text .txt .docx, .doc, .rtf
Tabular Text .csv, .tsv .xlsx, .xls
Image .jp2, .tiff .jpg, .psd
Documents .pdf/a, .epub .azw
Archiving .zip .rar
Storage Cloud CD-ROM

Data Documentation:

  • Use metadata to record details about a study such as
    • its context
    • the dates of data collections
    • data collection methods, etc.
  • If possible, use an established metadata standard appropriate to your field.

Ethical Issues:

  • All sensitive information in your data should be redacted (removed) before depositing in a public archive or repository.
  • Access to data may need to be embargoed (limited for a certain amount of time) in order to ensure privacy.
  • Queen's University has specific Research Ethics Policies for research on human subjects.
  • Be aware of the ownership and intellectual property rights concerning your data.
  • The Queen's University General Research Ethics Board (GREB) reminds researchers to seek 'up front' consent from respondents to archive data collected about them:

"Each Faculty has guidelines for the retention of original data and materials relating to scholarly activity. In the event your Faculty has no formalized policy, the minimum period for data retention accepted by the GREB is 2 years. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to deposit your data with an archive. This cannot be done without the permission of the subjects. Take this into consideration when seeking their consent to participate in your research."

In addition, Queen's University has a Electronic Information Security Policy Framework designed to preserve the integrity and reliability of the University's IT infrastructure and the confidentiality of valuable or sensitive information.  All members of the Queen's community have a responsibility to be aware of, and adhere to, this policy.

For those collecting human-subject data, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) has an excellent page providng 'Recommended Informed Consent Language for Data Sharing'. 

Sharing Data:

Sharing data is an essential part of the Data Life Cycle.  While you can share your data informally by emailing it to other researchers or posting it to a website, informal methods of sharing make it difficult for people to find your data and access it in both the short and the long-term. Depositing your data in an appropriate data archive is a much better option that helps ensure preservation and future discovery/use of your data. Queen's Libraries' (open.scholarship.services@queensu.ca) can help you select an appropriate archive.

Archive/Repository Examples
Subject/Discipline Example Archive/Repository
Ecology Dryad
DNA Sequences GenBank
Chemistry Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre
Social Sciences Scholars Portal Dataverse, ODESI, or ICPSR