4. Data Sustainability

Download PDF

4.2 Challenges and Issues

At the national level, there is still a lot of work to be done before one can say that all data are well managed. This is what the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) Research Data Strategy Working Group has concluded in 2008 while uncovering important gaps with respect to research data management in Canada1. The examination of key indicators allowed the Committee to quantify gaps between the current situation and an ideal state. As of today, these findings are still relevant and represent challenges and issues institutions are presently facing:

  • Policies: few organizations have clear data management policies;
  • Funding: long-term data management funding is deficient e.g. large gaps in funding all stages of data life cycle;
  • Roles and responsabilities: stakeholders responsibilities throughout the data life cycle are not clearly defined, certains roles are not assigned, lack of data management planning;
  • Trusted Digital Data Repositories: few existing data repositories for all research subject areas, a large portion of research data are still stored on scientists' hard drives;
  • Standards: interoperability and metadata standards are not always known and/or respected;
  • Skills and Training: there are few competent scientists dedicated to data management;
  • Reward and Recognition Systems: few mechanisms are in place for the recognition of contributions with respect to research data management and sharing;
  • Research and Development: lack of national priorities to support the coordination and orientation of R&D activities in Canada;
  • Accessibility: researchers are reluctant to share data; certain contradictions are found between policies ("privacy and ethics" and "access and preservation");
  • Preservation: lack of committment towards long-term preservation, research organizations are rarely demanding data management plans.

Currently, the main federal funding agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)2,  the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)3 and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)4,  have developed and/or have adopted policies with respect to access to scientific research data in Canada5. The underlying principles are:

  • advancement of knowledge,
  • reduction of duplicated research efforts,
  • increase of research benefits and
  • promotion of researchers' results.