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Research Data Management

Numbers and more

"Many people think of data-driven research as something that (only) happens in the sciences....(resulting in) a spreadsheet filled with numbers. Both of these beliefs are incorrect. Research data are collected and used in scholarship across all academic disciplines and, while it can consist of numbers in a spreadsheet, it also takes many different formats..."(Macalester College Library. Defining Research Data).

Examples of Research Data


As noted above, researchers in every discipline can generate research data and those data are not limited to numbers in a spreadsheet.  Depending on the context any of the following formats may be examples of research data:

  • videos
  • data extraction forms
  • precise search strategies employed (e.g., during scoping or systematic reviews)
  • images
  • artifacts
  • diaries
  • audio recordings
  • text files
  • finding aids
  • poetry, sketchbooks and other artistic outputs
  • prototypes
  • specimens
  • algorithms & scripts
  • archival metadata
  • interview notes and more.  

FAIR Principles

FAIR Principles


In 2016, the ‘FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship’ were published in Scientific Data.  Since then the notion that publicly funded research needs to be FAIR has been widely embraced and adopted by the Academy.  FAIR data are:

  • Findable: e.g., your data should be easy for others to find - e.g., by means of a permalink,  DOI or similar persistent/permanent identifier.
  • Accessible: e.g., it should be straightforward for others to access your data -   Authentication protocols can and should be established where needed.
    • NOTE: The GoFAIR Initiative acknowledges that "there may be legitimate reasons to shield data and services generated with public funding from public access. These include personal privacy, national security, and competitiveness" (What is the difference between "FAIR Data" and "Open Data?").
    • "Accessible" chiefly refers to ensuring that it's clear by what means the data may be accessed - and if not available for access - why not. Data are considered FAIR even if registration and authentication are required for access.
  • Interoperable: e.g., your data should be able to "interoperate with applications or workflows for analysis, storage, and processing." 
    • A major key to interoperability is using metadata - the information fields that describe your various data categories.

  • Re-usable: e.g., "metadata and data should be well-described so that they can be replicated and/or combined in different settings" (Go FAIR. FAIR Principles).


For more information about the FAIR Principles see GO FAIR: How to Go FAIR


NOTE:  The FAIR Principles are not a call to make all data open all of the time.  Private data, sensitive data and data arising from research by, with, for, or about Indigenous Peoples, communities and/or lands require unique data governance considerations.

  • These may include access embargoes, access limits, partial data suppression and/or total destruction of data at the project's end, depending on the situation.

For more information about managing private and sensitive data see the Private/Sensitive data page in our guide to Safeguarding Research Data.

For more information about Indigenous Data Governance see the Indigenous Data page in this guide.

Copyright, Data Use/Sharing

Copyright, Data Use / Sharing

When working with research partners, e.g., any project where you are not the sole researcher - you'll need to know who on the team owns the copyright to your research outputs - and all copyright owners will need to come to an agreement about how the project's data may be used or shared with others after the project ends. 

  • If your research partner(s) are from other institutions - be aware that different institutions/jurisdictions will have different requirements with respect to data security, data governance, privacy, consent forms, research ethics, copyright and more.

It may be in the best interests of the group to negotiate a formal agreement detailing the uses/sharing options will be permitted with respect to your joint intellectual property. Every member would need to sign this at the outset of the project  - ideally in consultation with a legal expert as well as other campus responsible departments such as RIO, the Privacy Office, and the Research Ethics Board. 


For more information on this topic see the Copyright & Research Data at Douglas College page in the College Copyright Guide.