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Research Data Management Strategy: VCC

Land Acknowledgement

We respectfully acknowledge that Vancouver Community College is located on the traditional and unceded territories of the  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, who have been stewards of these lands since time immemorial. 

Purpose & Rationale

The purpose of this document is to fulfil the Tri-Council agencies requirement, established in the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy, that all institutions and hospitals eligible to administer CIHR, NSERC, or SSHRC funds create an institutional research data management plan and notify the agencies when complete.[1] 

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) as federal funding agencies, expect funded work to be conducted at the highest level of excellence. As such, research should be conducted ethically, make good use of public resources, produce replicable results where applicable, and wherever possible make data and results accessible.  

Going forward, researchers will be required to submit Data Management Plans with funding applications which should adopt best practices and address: how data is collected and stored, what existing data may be used and what new data will be created, if the data will be shared, and how and where data will be deposited.  

Grant recipients will also be required to deposit all digital research data, metadata and code that is directly tied to the results of agency funded research by the time of publication.  

These requirements highlight the importance of institutional supports for data stewardship. As such, this plan outlines how VCC will build a strong foundation in research data management from 2023-2026. When we reach the end of this strategic timeframe, we will evaluate our success and formulate the next iteration of this strategy.  


The aim of this document is to envision the process by which the institution can provide the services and supports needed to enable best practices in research data management. This will, in turn, grow the research capacity of the VCC community.  

At present, this document is applicable to all data collected or created in the course of research by VCC employees or students for Tri-Agency grant-funded research. Where research is not funded by NSERC, SSHRC, or CIHR, this strategy may not yet apply. However, VCC expects all research to be undertaken utilizing best practices in research data management.   

This strategy document does not apply to institutional research data collected at VCC. Such data is collected to enhance the quality of service within the institution and to ensure evidence-based decision making. This data is governed by separate strategies and policies.  

The Importance of Research Data Management

Most RDM services are based on the research data lifecycle model. This is what happens with data before, during and after a research project, and this can vary greatly among various disciplines. Common stages in the lifecycle, however, can be described as: “(1) planning, (2) creation/collection, (3) processing, (4) analysis, (5) publication, (6) archival/dismissal, (7) reuse.” [2] A good data management plan outlines RDM activities for the entire lifecycle of the research.  

Researchers that are supported by the institutional strategy to deposit and share data will benefit in the following ways:  

  • Increase the visibility of their research when their data is cited [3] 

  • Improve the profile of their publications by aligning with publisher requirements [4,5,6] 

  • Foster scientific progress through validation, replication, reanalysis, new analysis, and inclusion in meta-analysis [6] 

  • Attract potential collaborators 

  • Produce more competitive grant applications 

Data sharing reduces redundancy in research and promotes the efficient use of funding. The management of research data goes far beyond our borders and is a key underpinning of innovative scientific inquiry. The European Commission Open Science Policy outlines eight ambitions, including open data and promoting the integrity of science through reproducible results.[7] As such, a European Union funded scoping report states: “Reproducibility of results has value both as a mechanism to ensure good science based on truthful claims, and as a driver of further discovery and innovation.” [8] 

Beyond funders, major publishers now place an emphasis on research data management in their guidelines for submission. Nature, Science and PLOS (Public Library of Science) Journals are among the most highly regarded and utilized research journals globally and require all authors to make data available to readers upon publication, to support the replication of research findings and to extend analysis.[4,5,6] Publisher Elsevier offers enhanced publishing opportunities for researchers to publish data as separate peer-reviewed output, assists with data availability statements and provides fee-based options for preservation and storage.[9] 

Research Data Management at VCC

Vancouver Community College is the oldest public college in BC, providing learning opportunities for over 15,000 students per year and employing over 1,100 individuals.  VCC has been working to expand research capacity but does not have a centralized research office. Prior to the work that began on this document, Vancouver Community College did not have any supports in place for research data management. The development of this strategy is a first step towards RDM and as such continued consultation and education will be crucial.  

VCC’s Strategic Innovation Plan 2022-25 is grounded in the college’s historical commitment to Indigenization, academic innovation, campuses of the future, empowered people and inclusive culture, operational excellence, and engaged communities. One of the ways in which the college will innovate, lead, and connect with community will be through undertaking new projects and research initiatives. Research at VCC is often driven by pedagogical interests and needs of instructors at a teaching focused institution, or alternatively, originates through project collaborations with external community groups, health authorities, industry partners, or other post-secondary institutions. VCC has a wealth of employees with specialized knowledge and expertise who, with enhanced support, are well positioned to answer a variety of applied research questions.  

Libraries play a vital role in assisting researchers in organizing and preserving data. This may include advising on the curation of data, formatting to accepted standards, de-identifying data, creating metadata that will enhance discoverability, and formatting data for storage, preservation, and access. Working with research data, however, is a new undertaking for VCC Library. It is a service closely aligned to the current Library Coordinator areas: copyright, research and scholarly communications, open education resources, records management, and archives. 

Fundamental Principles

The Tri-Council agencies support the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles for data management and stewardship. The FAIR principles for scientific data management and stewardship were published in Scientific Data in 2016.  

The principles emphasize machine-actionability (i.e., the capacity of computational systems to find, access, interoperate, and reuse data with none or minimal human intervention) because humans increasingly rely on computational support to deal with data as a result of the increase in volume, complexity, and creation speed of data.” [10] 

Best practices in data management according to the FAIR principles aid discovery of data and secure access for others into the future. The FAIR principles are endorsed globally by other major funders, including the National Institute of Health and the European Commission.  

However, the FAIR principles do not recognize and address the historical context and inequities in access and control that play into work concerning Indigenous data. The Tri-Council and VCC acknowledges that data relating to Indigenous peoples must be managed in accordance with principles developed and approved by such communities, organizations or collectives. The principles for data management most appropriate in some cases, will be those of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession) and CARE (Collective Benefit, Authority to Control, Responsibility and Ethics). In addressing community research in urban settings, the principles of USAI (Utility, Self-Voicing, Access and Inter-Relationality) may be more appropriate.  

Working with knowledge keepers and creators when reviewing research applications, with an eye to the unique requirements around Indigenous data sovereignty, is one aspect of ensuring best practices at our institution around data use and management. As such, the VCC Research Ethics Board (REB) has updated policies to reserve a seat for an Indigenous Community member, and this position was filled in April 2023.  

The Strategy





Assess the College’s current research data management needs 

  1. Survey those engaged in research and share report within institution.


  1. Meet with stakeholders across the institution.


Promote awareness of RDM

  1. Develop a communication plan to translate the value of data management planning to researchers and ensure compliance with Tri-Council standards. 


  1. Identify champions to help promote RDM.


Provide education and training for researchers

  1. Create guidance materials to support development of individual plans, including guiding questions and recommended best practices.


  1. Partner with other institutions to create shared training and education opportunities/identify training opportunities via Tri-Council and other agencies


  1. Plan, promote and deliver educational workshops on RDM. 


  1. Support professional development and training for RDM leaders within the institution. 


  1. Include data management in library instruction on research where appropriate.


  1. Build knowledge of principles of OCAP, CARE and USAI across research areas within the institution. 


Establish support networks for researchers exploring RDM 

  1. Offer RDM consultations to researchers at all stages of planning and developing projects. 


  1. Target RDM consultations for all researchers receiving internal research grants. 






Support researchers with Data Management Plans 

  1. Create a template for RDM plans for VCC researchers. 


  1. Post exemplar RDM plans online for viewing.


  1. Update Research Ethics Board (REB) application form.  


Provide long-term data storage service for researchers

  1. Investigate data storage services in dialogue with other similar sized institutions, seeking consortium funding options


  1. Work with IT to procure service.


Develop RDM supports for students.

  1. Work with IT to identify options for storage of student data


  1. Introduce data storage options for students.  


Support researchers working with Indigenous data.

  1. Apply OCAP, CARE and USAI principles when supporting those working with Indigenous data. 


  1. Consult with Indigenous researchers in development of RDM plan template. 


  1. Identify ways to support individual projects involving Indigenous data, focusing on ways to support data sovereignty. 


Establish access to computing resources such as secure data storage and long-term storage 

  1. Determine what data repositories are suitable for data deposit at VCC. 


  1. Arrange for access and creation of accounts. 


  1. Complete IT assessment and approval of any selected data repositories. 


  1. Complete IT approval of options for secure storage of student data. 


  1. Develop associated guide to data repositories for faculty provided to those working on RDM plans. 


  1. Develop data curation guidelines for datasets deposited into repositories selected by VCC.


Create a clear process for obtaining access to data software 

  1. Work with IT to provide instructions on how to access research software (data collection and storage). 


Foster collaboration among researchers internally and externally in a secure fashion 

  1. Assure that researchers can freely choose among repositories suited to their disciplinary needs. 


  1. Provide appropriate active data storage options to researchers to foster collaboration securely. 


Establish guidelines and supports around confidentiality and privacy 

  1. Collaborate with researchers and other institutions to determine best practices for working with sensitive data and ensuring privacy. 






Identify internal and external support opportunities 

  1. Identify and apply for external grants to support RDM development and implementation at VCC. 


  1. Determine internal budgetary support requirements for consideration. 


  1. Ensure stable funding for access to data storage and sharing (ie. Dataverse) and data collection (analysis software). 


  1. Develop a menu of costs for data storage for researchers to include in their RDM plans. 


  1. Library budget planning to begin including supports for research and RDM.


Development & Application of the Strategy

  • Internal survey of research activity was created by the Library and administered by Institutional Research (IR) in June 2022. It was sent to all employees of VCC. This survey served as a baseline to measure research activity in various areas of the college and to understand the kinds of data collected and utilized.  

  • Communication with other BC Post-Secondary Institution RDM Librarians is ongoing to ensure that our process aligned with other institutions.  

  • Stakeholders have been contacted during the development of this strategy and are invited to engage with the further development, review, and implementation process: 

    • Coordinator, Copyright & Open Educational Resources 
    • Coordinator, Archives & Records Management 
    • Coordinator, Research, Scholarly Communication and Library Instruction 
    • Research Ethics Board (REB) 
    • Information Technology (IT) 
    • Institutional Research (IR) 
    • Indigenous Education & Community Engagement (IECE) 
    • Individual Researchers at VCC  

Oversight & Review

Strategy Development  

The Strategy Development Team is primarily responsible for developing and writing the strategy and this is centred in the VCC Library.  

Individuals Approving the Strategy 

Following the development and consultation phases the following individuals will officially approve this strategy.  

  • David Wells, Vice President, Academic & Research  

  • Tannis Morgan, Associate Vice President, Academic Innovation 

  • The Research Advisory Council (RAC)  


Progress on the strategy will be assessed every 6-months by the Strategy Development Team and updated in this document. The strategy goals should be achieved by 2026.  

Progress Reports 

Bi-annual updates will be shared at the VCC Leaders Forum and at Education Council (EDCO).  

Principles & Policies

Indigenous Research Principles Guiding this Strategy 
When research involves First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, regardless of where they reside and whether their names appear on an official register, VCC looks to Tri-Council Policy Statement (Chapter 9) for additional guidance. These communities have unique histories, cultures and traditions and there must be mutual benefits in research, and unique recognition of rights over data. VCC prioritizes Indigenous data sovereignty regarding any data which is connected to, or relevant to Indigenous communities.  

The following principles offer further guidance:  

CARE Principles: Collective Benefit, Authority to Control, Responsibility and Ethics 

OCAP Principles: Ownership, Control, Access and Possession 

USAI Framework: Utility, Self-Voicing, Access and Inter-Relationality  

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: guiding principles of Inuit Traditional Knowledge 

Principles of Ethical Métis Research: Reciprocal Relationships, “Respect For,” Safe & Inclusive Environments, Recognize Diversity, “Research Should”, and Métis Context 


VCC Strategic Innovation Plan 

VCC’s Strategic Innovation Plan 2022-2025 has been developed with five strategic priorities:  

  • Academic Innovation: Deliver sustainable programming accessible and responsive to the diverse and changing learner, community, and employer needs. 

  • Campuses of the Future: Design spaces and infrastructures optimized for all learner and employee success and well-being. 

  • Empowered People and Inclusive Culture: Cultivate innovative and accessible people services committed to inclusion, wellness, and development for all employees. 

  • Engaged Communities: Foster meaningful relationships and strategic partnerships that expand opportunities, community impact, and industry recognition. 

  • Operational Excellence: Advance system integration, risk management, and fiscal responsibility through capacity building and digital transformation. 

Each of these strategic priorities include elements focused on indigenization through decolonization and reconciliation, and justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, combining a “unique combination of student success, community well-being and social progress.” 


VCC Policies 

Relevant VCC policies were consulted to ensure this strategy is aligned with current practices and policy requirements: 


External Principles/ Policies 

In addition to the Tri-Agency RDM Policy, other following external policies were utilized in developing this institutional strategy:  

Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2) 

Tri-Council Open Access Policy on Publications 

Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management 

Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIPPA) and the data residency amendment, allowing data to be stored outside of Canada in certain circumstances with additional risk assessment.  

FAIR Principles: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable 


[1] Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy. Government of Canada. 

[2] Lefebvre, A., Schermerhorn, E., and Spruit, M. (2018). How research data management can contribute to efficient and reliable science. Conference on Information Systems, Portsmouth, UK. 

[3] Yu, F., Deuble, R.  & Morgan, H. (2017). Designing research data management services based on the research lifecycle: A consultative leadership approach. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 66(3): 287-298. 

[4] Reporting Standards and Availability of Data, Materials, Code and Protocols. Nature Portfolio. 

[5] Science Journals: Editorial Policies. 

[6] Data Availability. PLOS Journals. 

[7] European Commission, Research and Innovation. (2020). The EU’s Open Science Policy. 

[8] European Commission, Director-General for Research and Innovation (2016). H2020 Program: Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020. 

[9] Elsevier (2023). Research Data.,publications%20using%20permanent%20standard%20identifiers 

[10] Wilkinson, M., Dumontier, M., Aalbersberg, I. et al. (2016). The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship. Scientific Data 3: 160018. 

[11] Research Data Management Terminology. CODATA. 

PDF of the VCC RDM Strategy


Data Management Plan 

A formal statement describing how research data will be managed and documented throughout a research project and the terms regarding the subsequent deposit of the data with a data repository for long-term management and preservation. 


Repositories preserve, manage, and provide access to many types of digital materials in a variety of formats. Materials in online repositories are curated to enable search, discovery, and reuse. There must be sufficient control for the digital material to be authentic, reliable, accessible and usable on a continuing basis. 

Research Data 

Data that are used as primary sources to support technical or scientific enquiry, research, scholarship, or artistic activity, 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. All other digital and non-digital content have the potential of becoming research data. Research data may be experimental data, observational data, operational data, third party data, public sector data, monitoring data, processed data, or repurposed data. 

Research Data Management  

Data Management refers to the storage, access and preservation of data produced from a given investigation. Data management practices cover the entire lifecycle of the data, from planning the investigation to conducting it, and from backing up data as it is created and used to long term preservation of data deliverables after the research investigation has concluded.  

Definitions from Research Data Management Terminology - CODATA, The Committee on Data for Science and Technology shared under a Creative Commons 4.0 International License.[11] 

Guiding Principles

  1. VCC recognizes that data are important research output. Creating, managing, and storing data are essential to building research capacity.  

  1. VCC supports the FAIR principles: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. 

  1. VCC recognizes the importance of Indigenous data sovereignty and as such follows the principles of OCAP, CARE and USAI.  

  1. VCC commits to support its research community through education, tools, and services. 

  1. VCC will seek to fund the Research Data Management Strategy wherever possible through external grants, repurposing existing resources and collaborative internal and external resourcing. 

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