Data Management

Reflect on your own research practices

How will you determine whether the data collected is the most appropriate for addressing your research question? 
How much detail will be necessary to capture as you document your research process?
What measures can you take that will protect the integrity of your data?
What are your expectations for accessing the data generated during your research if you were to move to another UBC department or leave UBC altogether?

Managing data responsibly cuts across all stages of research — from conceptualizing a project to archiving and disposing of research materials.

Fabricating, falsifying or destructing research records to conceal wrongdoing obscures the truth and undermines the trust of fellow researchers, scholars and the public. Researchers found liable for serious breaches like these can become subject to serious consequences such as suspension, termination of existing funding or becoming ineligible for future funding opportunities.

Responsibly managing data supports others to build upon our research in the future.

Best Practices

Seek relevant information and training

Review the university and Tri-Agency guidelines and resources to support the integrity of your research data and to protect against unlawful or unauthorized access to them. Consider if provincial or national policies involving data management, such as the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), affect your work. For example, depending on the nature of your work, using commercial cloud services for data storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive may be prohibited. Seek information about data management guidelines and privacy policies that may apply to your work and ensure that your Data Management Plan (DMP) includes strategies for adhering to them.

Keep detailed research records

Maintaining accurate and complete records allows researchers to iterate their ideas and work. With sufficient details, others skilled in your discipline can reconstruct, verify, extend and correct your research, which improves the quality and integrity of research overall. Additionally, retaining good research records could ultimately protect your intellectual property rights and defend against allegations of scholarly misconduct.

Plan how you will manage your data

Create a data management plan (DMP) that describes how the data will be collected, formatted, analyzed, preserved and shared, as well as how you will use existing datasets and what new data will be created. DMPs can also help you to determine the costs, benefits and challenges of managing data. Furthermore, creating a DMP can initiate and facilitate important conversations about research data ownership.


Out-of-date training on data techniques

Responsibly managing data requires you to be competent in good study design, skilled in technical procedures, accurate in keeping records, proficient in conducting appropriate statistical or qualitative analysis and knowledgeable of relevant data infrastructure and policies. Many aspects of being proficient in these areas can change and evolve. Seek out mentorship from peers and stay up to date on any relevant training in these areas.

Hurried or hasty planning

Advanced planning helps you preserve scholarly integrity while also saving you time and resources in the long run. As you develop a thorough DMP, consider how you might develop strategies that help you fulfill legal or procedural obligations to protect sensitive data, how the data format enables or restricts preservation and access after the project has concluded and other potential challenges that could arise outside the lens of your project. Building these plans into your DMP could also save you significant stress and effort should an unanticipated challenge arise.

Neglecting the details

It takes time and training to learn how to complete thorough data curation. While it may seem tedious to add additional metadata beyond what is required to complete your work and produce publications, metadata is critical for the effective dissemination of primary data in the long term. UBC’s research librarians have a wealth of technical expertise that can help you to develop your research with data preservation in mind.


Continue to Writing with Integrity

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