Management Policy for Scientific Data
June 12, 2001
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, through its own programs and through exchanges with national and international organisations, has acquired a large volume of scientific data and information over the years, and manages these through a set of practices evolved over the years. Since these historical data sets are an extremely valuable and irreplaceable resource of the Department, it is essential to develop and implement a Science and Oceans data management policy to ensure the preservation and enhancement of the data, while facilitating efficient and appropriate utilisation. It is recognised that this policy has to be consistent with the many data sharing arrangements the Department has with external agencies in Canada and international organisations and with the obligations associated with these arrangements. The policy will have to be flexible enough to permit effective new partnerships and to be responsive to new priorities. The intent of this policy is to safeguard the present and future holdings of scientific data, to strengthen the promotion of data interconnectivity, to maximise the usefulness of existing data through standards, and to determine cost-effective ways to manage data holdings. The implementation of such a policy is consistent with the Government of Canada's initiative to rationalise and improve the overall cost-effectiveness of its data holdings.
Priorities Influencing the Policy
This policy is based on current Departmental priorities, which include:
- Support scientific research projects and resource assessments at a regional, zonal, national, or international level;
- Provide scientific information and data on ocean, coastal and inland waters and ecosystems in support of integrated resource management, conservation of marine, anadromous and freshwater fishery resources, and the sustainable development of aquaculture;
- Provide scientific information and data for the achievement of marine and freshwater environmental and fish habitat protection and conservation through an integrated approach;
- Support the information and data requirements for marine services, transportation, and navigation;
- Support the Departmental responsibility to review environmental impact assessments for approval of environmental design parameters associated with offshore, coastal zone and inland waters development;
- Collaborate with other federal and provincial governmental departments to ensure greater flexibility in timely and cost-effective access to data and information;
- Provide scientific information in support of policy development in the department;
- Support Canada's commitment to international organizations.
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) scientific data sets are a valuable national resource that have been acquired through decades of investment, enabling the Department to maintain world leadership in aquatic sciences and aquatic management. These data are irreplaceable, and must be protected and managed to ensure long-term availability.
- Because of the complex and often unique nature of scientific data, it is essential that DFO Science/Oceans maintain responsibility for their quality control, management, archiving and dissemination.
- To ensure proper management and archival of data, all scientific data collected by the Department must be migrated to a ‘managed' archive immediately after the data have been processed.
- To obtain maximum benefit to the Department and to the user community at large, scientific data must be made available in a timely manner with full and open access, consistent with Departmental, national and international obligations with respect to its data holdings.
- To obtain access to international data and information that are pertinent to Canadian needs, Canada must be able to exchange its data with other world data centres, subject to the ‘Exceptions' listed in the section ‘Availability of Access' below.
Data Management Policies
All DFO scientific data must be managed as part of an integrated system accessible through regional, zonal and national data centres. The Integrated Science Data Management Service, Science Sector, (ISDM) will provide co-ordination among regional, zonal and national centres as appropriate, to ensure that all data are properly managed. Where no data management centre exists in a Region, Science and Oceans managers will be required to designate and support indeterminate A-base staff positions that include data management responsibilities.
ISDM will continue to function as a national data centre for Departmental data with archiving functions shared as appropriate with existing Regional data centres, and will serve as the primary point of contact for international data exchanges except in cases where the ADM Science or the ADM Oceans has designated in writing an alternate data centre as the primary contact.
The responsibilities of the integrated system of data centres will be to:
- Respond to internal and external data requests, in accordance with ‘Availability of Access' Section below.
- Maintain inventories and documentation for all data holdings for which they have designated responsibility, including references to data sets not stored at the data centre.
- Provide basic data retrieval, integration and summarization capabilities to satisfy common requests.
- Provide or authorize computerized networking linkages.
- Perform, in concert with the data providers, data quality control, verification and removal of duplicate data.
- Ensure long term accessibility and documentation in the event of organizational changes, retirements, etc.
- Protect data against loss resulting from error, accident, technological change, degradation of media, etc.
In cooperation with Regional staff, ISDM may provide any or all of the above services on behalf of a Region, if so requested by that Region.
It is the responsibility of Science and Oceans managers to ensure that data collectors under their management submit their data as well as data collected under contract to or partnership with other agencies, to the appropriate data centre in a timely fashion. This is important to ensure that data are quickly migrated into a ‘managed' environment where they are properly backed up and secured from accidental or circumstantial loss, and where the supporting metadata are integrated with the data to preserve the long-term usefulness of a data set.
Timely fashion will be taken to mean that: (a) data sets will be submitted immediately after the data are processed (b) submission will not be delayed while data analysis, statistical treatment, interpretation and publication occur, and (c) submission will include metadata prepared by the data collector to accompany the data set and document the methodologies and other details needed so that others are aware of the potential limitations of the data.
Data encompassed by this policy include data identified in Annex 1, and any other scientific data that may be created or otherwise acquired by DFO.
Exceptions to this policy are possible if: (a) the responsible manager and the responsible data centre have agreed that the data in question are not appropriate for submission, or (b) it can be demonstrated that there is a legal imperative (e.g. legal chain of custody requirements) that categorically prohibits submission of the excluded data, or (c) an extension or exemption from the policy is sought for other reasons and granted in writing by the Regional Science/Oceans Director.
Data submission to the responsible data centre does not mean that the data will be openly accessible. Thus concerns about access shall not be seen as a valid reason for not submitting data. It is the responsibility of the Regional Science/Oceans Director to designate data as classified for the purpose of preventing access to data which may not and must not be openly accessible.
Availability of Access
DFO scientific data are a public resource and subject to full and open access within two years of being acquired. In cases where, in the opinion of the Regional Science/Oceans Director, there may be a danger of improper or incorrect interpretation of the data, steps shall be taken to ensure that potential users are fully apprised of this possibility and a contact person should be identified who can provide assistance in proper use and interpretation.
Exceptions will be made to this policy in the event that one or more of the conditions below are met:
- DFO investigators have written approval from the Regional Science/Oceans Director to delay access to the data; in such cases, the letter of approval will include the rationale for the delay, and an agreed-upon date for the release of the data;
- There are third party agreements, privacy concerns, or legal restrictions;
- The data are of commercial benefit to DFO, in which case they will be managed according to Departmental intellectual property management regimes and prevailing policy. The data would be protected under s.18 of the Access to Information and Privacy Act.
- Where there is uncertainty or dispute over whether a data set meets the second or third condition, legal advice shall be sought and followed.
Future third party agreements for the provision or exchange of data will certainly have an impact on data management in DFO and must therefore be approved by NSDC to ensure consistency with this Policy.
Inclusion of a Data Management Component in Science Project Plans
All science project proposals and plans must demonstrate the existence of a comprehensive data management plan, or must develop one if the existing infrastructure cannot adequately respond to the requirements of the project, to address the management of scientific data collected during the life of the underlying project. This plan must include strategies and schedules for the transfer of the data to the responsible data centre. The project budget must clearly indicate the allocation of resources for data management and how these resources will be used. The Regional Science/Oceans Director or their designate will be responsible for conducting periodic reviews of data management activities to ensure that they are consistent with the plan.
A national inventory of DFO scientific data holdings will be maintained. It will be the responsibility of each designated data centre to maintain and update the inventories of its holdings. ISDM will be responsible for maintaining national links to all data inventories and the infrastructure to ensure the inventories are nationally accessible.
Acquisition of Data from Third Party Sources
DFO Science and Oceans sectors should pursue the acquisition of relevant scientific data from other national and international sources where these data contribute to the goals of the Department. This must be done in an open and transparent manner and DFO's rights and duties must be agreed upon by all concerned parties and approved by NSDC.
Data Submitted under Regulations or Having Legal Aspects
Scientific data that have legal aspects constraining their distribution, whether collected by DFO or submitted by third parties, will be kept in their original form, and appropriately secured. If confidential data are submitted by third parties, a letter from the third party will be obtained indicating that the data are confidential. As well, the data manager responsible for that data set should designate the data as "Protected - Third Party Information".
DFO Science and Oceans sectors will develop a national data rescue program to locate and preserve scientific data that are of value to departmental programs and may be in danger of being lost.
Application of Technology
Science and Oceans data centres will manage their data and will service users in an efficient manner by taking full advantage of current technology within the existing Informatics framework where appropriate.
Access to Information and Privacy Act Considerations
DFO Science and Oceans sectors will manage their data in a manner consistent with the Access to Information and Privacy Act (ATIP) and the requirement to document the location, status, and availability of the data consistent with good data management practices. When scientific data are requested under the Act, ISDM officials or the responsible Science/Oceans Regional Director should provide the data to the ATIP Secretariat in HQ and inform ATIP as to whether the data are confidential (along with supporting rationale for confidentiality) or inform ATIP that the data can be disclosed.
A permanent National Data Management Working Group (NDMWG), with representation from Regions and Sectors and a chairperson from ISDM, will be established, reporting to the ADM Science and ADM Oceans. ISDM will carry the secretariat function for the group. Annually, the group will review the data management activities, assess last year's performance against plans and define the tasks and milestones for the coming year. ISDM will have the responsibility of presenting a report on the status of scientific data management to the ADM Science and ADM Oceans, and to make recommendations to correct any deficiencies that prevent the policy from meeting its objectives.
It will be the responsibility of the Regional Directors of Science/Oceans to implement and ensure adherence to this policy. Inter-regional and inter-sectorial issues and concerns will be addressed by the ADM Science and ADM Oceans, as appropriate.
For further information on this policy or on accessing the scientific data please contact:
Director, Integrated Science Data Management Service
W082, 12th Floor, 200 Kent St.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0E6
Some Data Types Covered Under the Management Policy of DFO Scientific Data
- Physical oceanographic data
- Hydrological data (e.g. Flow volumes of streams and rivers)
- Meteorological data
- Biological oceanographic data
- Marine chemistry data
- Contaminants data
- Fisheries data
- Biological data (from catch sampling, trawl and acoustic surveys, sentinel fisheries and industry surveys, science logbooks, etc.)
- Field and lab data in support to stocks' assessment process
- Fish health data
- Freshwater and marine habitat data
- Freshwater biological data
- Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) data
- Data collected by the Canadian Hydrographic Service, subject to CHS agreements and operational practices.
- Date Modified: