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Research Spotlight

Canadian RDM Survey: A Success Story Based on Collaboration

Faced with looming changes outlined in the
Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management, such as data sharing and preservation, librarians at eleven universities across Canada are collaborating on a survey study in order to better understand research data management (RDM) practices and needs of academic researchers both locally and nationally. A common survey instrument, originally developed by the U of T Libraries, was designed to explore:

  • How academic researchers manage and share research data during and beyond their projects
  • How the library might help facilitate data management activities
  • Differences in RDM practices and needs across disciplines and sub-disciplines

globe4Initially, the survey targeted researchers in the engineering and science disciplines. Following its great success, the survey instrument was adapted for the humanities and social sciences, as well as the health and medical science disciplines. Furthermore, the survey has quickly expanded across Canada as several university libraries signed on to join the project. Participating institutions at time of writing include: Dalhousie University, McGill University, Queen’s University, Ryerson University, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Windsor, and Western University.

The collaborative nature of the project has brought together various stakeholders including librarians, researchers, university administrators, funding agencies and the Portage Network. The three Canadian federal research funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) have offered a French translation of the survey instruments and are interested in using the survey findings to inform policy decisions.

Since partnerships and open access are fundamental to this project, generic survey documents are being prepared so other universities can interview their own research communities. These documents, as well as the data collected and the resulting publications, will be hosted by the Portage Network.

Melissa Cheung is the Science and Engineering Research Librarian at University of Ottawa. Email:
Dylanne Dearborn is a Research Data Librarian at University of Toronto Libraries. Email:
Tatiana Zaraiskaya is the E-Science Librarian at Queen’s University Library. Email:

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