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Research Data Management Toolkit

This guide provides information about research data management and the Research Data JCU platform

Introduction: Funders and FAIR Data

Many funding agencies (along with publishers, and research institutions like universities) require researchers to make formal arrangements for research data management, and may expect an appropriate level of data sharing from the projects they support. Internationally there is a growing trend for funders to mandate data management and sharing (see for example the policies of the U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, and the European Research Council) and Australia will soon follow. (You can use Jisc's search engine Sherpa Juliet to check specific research funders' policies and requirements for open data archiving and sharing.)

National codes and international policies and principles (such as F.A.I.R. data) provide a framework for thinking about research data management and data sharing, and inform funder policies and best practice. This section of the Toolkit outlines the research data management requirements for Australia's major funders, the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)word 'funding' in Victorian-era script

Australian Research Council (ARC)

Since February 2014, the ARC has required researchers to  briefly outline how they plan to manage research data arising from ARC-funded research in their grant applications. From 2020, this requirement will be part of the agreement for funding under the National Competitive Grants Program

The ARC does not require that full, detailed data management plans be submitted for assessment, but from 2020 they require that such plans are in place (with the Administering Institution) prior to the commencement of the project. This requirement is designed to encourage researchers to consider ways in which they can best manage, store, disseminate and reuse data and to make use of institutional infrastructure (such as Research Data JCU) and/or processes that may be available to them. Currently, the ARC encourages but does not mandate open access to research data.

It is good practice to carefully read grant guidelines and/or contracts to check the latest information and requirements for mandatory Research Data Management Plans. Prior to 2020, ARC RDMPs were to include (but were not limited) to details on storage, access, and re-use arrangements; the text was not expected to be more than half a page (the Australian National Data Service had a useful guide to filling in the data management section for ARC applicants).

JCU researchers should contact JCU Connect for further advice if required.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

Key points from the NHMRC Open Access Policy:

"The NHMRC acknowledges the importance of making research data publicly accessible and therefore strongly encourages researchers to consider the reuse value of their data and to take reasonable steps to share research data and associated metadata arising from NHMRC supported research."

When sharing data, researchers should ensure that appropriate metadata accompany the datasets. This will allow users of the data to fully understand the data, the curation strategies, assumptions, experimental conditions and any other details relevant to the interpretation of the data. See the Documentation and Metadata section of the Toolkit for more information.

When sharing research data, researchers must also consider the appropriate level of access that they would like to provide to users. The level of access may range from highly restricted (e.g. commercial in confidence, patient level, culturally sensitive, national security) to fully open access. See the Sharing Sensitive Data section of the Toolkit for more information.

The NHMRC encourages researchers to conduct data management planning activities as a matter of best practice and as a means to facilitate F.A.I.R. data.

The updated National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (updated 2018) states that: 

"When planning to share data or information with other researchers or to establish or add them to a databank, researchers must develop data management plans in accordance with the guidance provided in 3.1.45. This plan should enable the sharing of data and information and propose appropriate conditions on the sharing of data and information." (Section 3.1.56.)

Data Sharing Frameworks and FAIR Data

Australian funder requirements are informed by policies, strategies and principles including:


FAIR data icon

More resources on the FAIR Data Principles:

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