The Current State of Research Data Management (RDM) at McMaster Reports uri icon

  • Overview


  • Research Data Management (RDM) is a suite of connected processes and practices, which are applied throughout the research lifecycle—i.e., as data is planned for, collected, organized, documented, stored, preserved, shared, and reused—in support of analysis, research, and dissemination that is beneficial to society. This process increases research visibility, generates new collaborations, enables verification of results, and fosters a culture of reproducible research. RDM is carried out by researchers—whether faculty, students, staff, or community members—and is supported by staff in research and privacy offices, institutional IT units, and libraries. To support high professional and disciplinary standards that make good use of public funds, the Tri-Agencies have released a Research Data Management Policy. (I. Government of Canada, n.d.) This policy has three pillars: data deposit, Data Management Plans (DMPs), and a requirement for each institution eligible to administer Tri-Agency funds to develop and share an Institutional RDM Strategy by March 2023. Strategies are expected to emphasize best practices and outline the requisite institutional support to apply them; aligning throughout with disciplinary norms, ethical/legal/commercial obligations, and principles of Indigenous data sovereignty. With the goal of developing McMaster’s Institutional RDM Strategy, a Working Group (ISWG) was assembled in April 2021 with representatives from faculties, research support offices, ethics boards, IT support units, libraries, and McMaster University’s partner research hospitals. The ISWG is following steps laid out in the Digital Research Alliance of Canada (DRAC)’s Institutional Research Data Management Strategy Development Template.(I. R. S. T. R. W. Group, 2021) This document represents the culmination of Stage 2 in the development process, which relates to understanding and describing the current state of RDM at McMaster. It situates McMaster RDM in context and shares results from four assessment activities: an environmental scan of RDM stakeholder groups, requirements, and services within and beyond McMaster, a scale and maturity assessment of McMaster’s extant RDM services, a survey of researchers’ RDM needs, and focus groups with researchers and research support units. Our high-level findings on the current state of McMaster Research Data Management reveal several areas of potential clarification and growth. Although many of these areas overlap, they are organized here around frameworks which support research—governance and policy, funding and support, culture, community, and collaboration—as well as needs related to RDM practices, tools, and infrastructure.

publication date

  • November 3, 2022