Plan is the first stage of the data lifecycle. As a researcher at an Australian university, you are required to collect, manage and retain your research data and primary materials in accordance with relevant legislation and University policies which are consistent with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. In the planning stage, consider the following:

  • conduct a review of existing datasets and determine whether your research will use existing data, new data or a combination of both
  • consult relevant policies, procedures and legislation
  • investigate confidentially and privacy requirements, and any contractual arrangements with funders or industry partners
  • begin a data management plan.

Review existing datasets

Consider whether existing datasets are appropriate to answer your research question. With more research data being made openly available for further research and analysis through data repositories and archives, there is a real possibility that useful datasets may be available, to either fully or partially answer your research question.

There are two main approaches to using existing datasets:

  1. Secondary analysis uses data that has been collected or produced by another researcher to answer a separate and different research question.
  2. Ancillary studies involve the use of secondary data while adding one or more other measurements to the existing study - adding a questionnaire to an existing study would be an example of an ancillary study.

Case study

QUT Researchers Kavel Deilami, Liton Md. Kamruzzaman and John Hayes used existing datasets from NASA's Landsat program to test causal relationships between land cover/use and surface urban heat islands. Why use Landsat? "…Landsat images are freely available for download, and their extended temporal coverage enabled the researchers to obtain datasets meeting some specific criteria", including five-year time differences. To obtain images with similar air temperatures, data from Archerfield airport weather station was used to identify relevant dates for searching in Landsat. In addition, ABS socio-demographic datasets, IKONOS images and Google Earth images were used in the research.

Deilami, Kaveh, Kamruzzaman, Md., & Hayes, John F. (2016) Correlation or causality between land cover patterns and the urban heat island effect? Evidence from Brisbane, Australia. Remote Sensing, 8(9), Article Number-716.

Sources of secondary data and published data sets:

Your responsibilities

QUT recognises research data as a valuable product of research activity which can assist in promoting open enquiry and debate, complementing research outputs and publications, providing research transparency, and justifying research outcomes. You are responsible for appropriately managing research data and primary materials throughout the research lifecycle, by addressing issues of confidentiality, security, ownership, storage, recordkeeping, retention and re-use.

The MoPP D/2.8 Management of Research Data applies to the management of all research data created by researchers associated or affiliated with QUT including postgraduate students engaged in research activities. The policy states that 'research data will be made available for access and re-use subject to any contractual, ethical, privacy or confidentiality matters'. It emphasises that 'Research which is supported by public funding, and higher degree research student projects, must use the online research data management planning tool'. Consider your responsibilities in relation to confidentiality, privacy, contracts and ownership of data.


A dataset may contain confidential or classified information that should not be released to the public. If this is the case, you have a responsibility to guard against unauthorised access by using physical locks or digital encryption/password controls. Authorised access should be managed via the use of a signed confidentially/non-disclosure agreement. Non-disclosure agreements are also used to prevent potentially patentable information from being leaked into the public domain. Inadvertent disclosure of data can prevent a patent from being granted as the product or process is no longer considered 'novel'. If your research involves confidential information, this should be recorded in the data management plan.

For more information, see Research Data Rights Management Guide (PDF, 1.3MB).


If your data includes person identifying information (names and addresses), health information about identifiable individuals, or information about the movements of identifiable individuals, privacy restrictions will apply. Any personal information should be kept secure. Before collecting and using personal information in your research, you should seek consent from the person to whom it relates or use a process of de-identifying the data, so it no longer reveals their identity. If your research involves data restricted by privacy, this should be recorded in the data management plan.

See the Research Data Rights Management Guide (PDF, 1.3MB) and the ANDS Guide to publishing and sharing sensitive data for more information.


When a funding body or industry partner externally funds research, there may be conditions attached to the funding and/or obligations related to ownership, access and dissemination. This information will be recorded in a contract that will be signed by the Chief Investigator, but the obligations apply to all researchers involved in the project. The information should be included in the data management plan.

Ownership of data

In general, QUT is the owner of research data and primary materials generated in the conduct of research at University. Research students can retain a copy of the research data and primary materials for future use, subject to any contractual, statutory, ethical or funding body requirements (MoPP D/2.8).

Documentation and guidance

The Data Management Planning (DMP) Tool will help you to identify and document the legal, confidentiality, privacy, ownership or contractual issues that may apply to your research data. The DMP tool is based on the model created by the UK Digital Curation Centre and includes QUT specific advice to help you write data management plans.

Documentation to capture at the planning stage includes:

  • Confidentiality agreements
  • Participant consent forms
  • Ethics approvals
  • Copies of contracts.

Stage 2/Research Proposal and your Data Management Plan

As a researcher you need to be confident about the data you are collecting, ensuring that you store it in a way that complies with the requirements of your project, confidentiality considerations and potential access requirements' (QUT Research Student Centre). As part of your Stage 2/Research Proposal, you are required to indicate one of the actions listed below:

  • I have not yet considered data management issues but will do so before confirmation
  • I have read the data management planning information and discussed the need to complete the Data Management Plan (online) with my supervisor
  • I have read the data management planning information, discussed it with my supervisor, and have completed the Data Management Plan (online)