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Data Management

Guide to data management resources for researchers

What are Research Data?

“Research data are data that are used as primary sources to support technical or scientific enquiry, research, scholarship, or creative practice, and that are used as evidence in the research process and/or are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings and results. Research data may be experimental data, observational data, operational data, third party data, public sector data, monitoring data, processed data, or repurposed data. What is considered relevant research data is often highly contextual, and determining what counts as such should be guided by disciplinary norms.”– Frequently Asked Questions Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy

Data Management Resources

A digital illustration depicting a laptop resting on a yellowfins filing cabinet beside a stack of books. Text at the top reads: "Data management" A digital illustration depicts text on a purpose background reading "Three Main Considerations: Description, Organization, Security" with a paper tag, a yellow folder, and a lock beside each word, respectively. Text on a blue background reads "Use metadata tools + standards for search engine optimization; Stay consistent with how you organize your files; back up your data frequently." with a paper tag, a yellow folder, and a lock beside each point.

Images by Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, CC BY-NC-SA

Research Data Management involves processes and tools that researchers use to create and save the data they generate over the course of their research. Data may be in various forms including text, transcripts, recordings and numeric data. There are a number of tools that can be used to help organize, format, document, store, protect and preserve your data that will help to save time, increase efficiency, meet grant requirements, improve accessibility and secure your research data. For more information explore the content below and read the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy.

Brief Guide - Create an Effective Data Management Plan

This brief guide presents a general framework for creating an effective data management plan (DMP) to help you plan and organize your research and to meet research funder requirements.

To prepare your DMP, visit the Portage DMP Assistant tool

Data Management Plan Template: Arts-Based Research

"This template will assist you in creating a data management plan for arts-based research (ABR). It is intended for researchers and artists who use artistic processes as research methods (i.e., arts-based methods). ABR is used across disciplines and encompasses diverse understandings of the arts, research, and how they intersect. In this template, ABR is an umbrella term for all the ways the arts are adapted to answer research questions, including those described as arts research, artistic research, and research-creation. You can use this template on its own, or in combination with others on the DMP Assistant when using arts-based methods with other methodological approaches." -- abstract

Lévesque, Michel, & Doiron, James. (2021). Data Management Plan Template: Arts-Based Research. Zenodo.

Data Management Plan Template: History and the Humanities

"This model was developed for researchers in history and in the larger field of humanities. It was designed to take into account the fact that research projects in these disciplines still primarily use analog research data during the active, phases of a project." -- abstract

Lisée, Cynthia, & Kelly, Benoît. (2021). Data Management Plan Template: History and the Humanities. Zenodo.

Use metadata to help search for and access your data. Click here for some examples of metadata standards. 

Common Metadata Elements

  • Title of data set
  • Creator
  • Subject (used standardized disciplinary terminology
  • Description (how and why the data was collected)
  • Abstract (how the dataset will be used)
  • Contributors
  • Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
  • Type (image, text, spreadsheet, etc.)
  • License

It is important to set up conventions and be consistent with how you organize your data files. This will help you and other researchers access your data in the future.

Here are some recommended conventions:

  • Record dates in YYYYMMDD format
  • Use short unique identifiers
  • Include a summary of content in file name
  • Use underscores as delimiters
  • Keep track of document versions sequentially or by date
  • Make folder hierarchies simple

Example: FileName_Guidelines_20170407_v01.docx

Storing your data

  • Back up your data on a regular basis
  • Store three copies: original, copy on local external device, copy on external devise at different location
  • Check with IT for their storage and backup capacity

Securing your data

  • Ensure computer hard drives are encrypted
  • Do not store data on free cloud services (Dropbox or Google Drive)

During the 2020/21 academic year, Emily Carr University hosted the series, "Digital + Creative Knowledge Sharing: Data Management in Creative Research". Event recordings can be found here.

The Portage Network

Portage "is a national, library-based research data management network" that provides guidance on how to manage research data. Create an account to access the Data Management Plan (DMP) Assistant, an effective tool to help create a data management plan that meets the requirements of the Tri-Agency Funders. Although ECUAD is not one of the partnering institutions, individuals can still sign up and access the DMP Assistant.

UBC Research Data Management

Find information on data management for all stages of the research process. Learn to organize; format; document and describe; store and back up; preserve; and protect your research data. Learn how to make your data publicly available. Learn to publish, license and cite your research data. Learn how to find data to help with your research.


A free online course on digital data management.

It Starts with a Plan: A (Brief) Introduction to Research Data Management

This talk includes an introduction to research data management (RDM) in the context of the Open Access Movement and federal policy, data planning and principles, data storage, and data deposit. The content is also available here:

This presentation is a part of a collaborative series between Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECU) and OCAD University (OCAD U). The series explores themes around responsible conduct in art and design research.

The Conducting Creative Research events were made possible with a SRCR Education and Training Support (SETS) Grant from the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research through the Panel on Research Ethics (PRE) and the Panel on Responsible Conduct (PRCR) of Research on behalf of the three federal research granting agencies: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).       604-844-3840        520 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC