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, 2018. In the planning stage, consider the following:

  • conduct a review of secondary datasets and determine whether your research will use secondary 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 secondary datasets

Consider whether secondary 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 secondary 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 secondary 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 datasets:

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 QUT MOPP (D/2.8) Management of research data and primary materials 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 'researchers should ensure their data are as FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) as possible, subject to funding body, contractual, commercialisation, ethical, privacy or confidentiality considerations' (QUT, 2020, para. 3).

All QUT researchers and HDR students must complete a data management plan for all those research projects for which they are responsible. The Research Data Management and Primary Materials Checklist will help in this task. Documentation of your data management plan can be done with the QUT Data Management Planning Tool (QUT VPN is required to access the DMP Tool off campus). Remember to 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.


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 ARDC Research Data Rights Management Guide and the ARDC resources on identifiable data and 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 the 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/2.8.5 Management of research data and primary materials - Ownership and custodianship).

Documentation and guidance

The QUT Research Data Management and Primary Materials Checklist guides you to ensure that your data and primary materials are managed correctly during the course of your research.

This simple online Checklist provides guidance to you that fulfils the principles set out in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018 and in other international consensus policies, such as the F.A.I.R. Data Principles. The Checklist acts as a precursor to documenting the details of your research data management requirements in the QUT Data Management Planning Tool (see below), where more detail and a plan can be generated. The Checklist also allows your HDR Supervisors to review your progress in developing your data management plans, leading to informed, meaningful conversations.

Watch the video below to understand how to use the Checklist.

Watch the video: Research data and primary materials checklist: Training video for QUT students and staff (MediaHub video, 4m21s)

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 (QUT VPN is required to access the DMP Tool off campus). 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. As part of your Stage 2/Research Proposal, you are required to indicate whether you have completed a data management plan.