Building a Decoder Ring for Sensitive Data Management

An Institutional Underpinnings Research Data Management Network project to create a framework for the complex problem of managing sensitive data in research institutions
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Who will benefit
Universities and other research institutions

The Challenge

Mismanagement of sensitive research data presents high levels of risk to researchers and institutions. Determining how to safely manage sensitive research data requires navigation of complex and interacting regulation, cybersecurity standards and technology solutions. 

To support researchers and lower institutional risks, institutions have been separately investing in interpreting the complex regulatory and technical environment to advise on appropriate management of research data of different sensitivities. Resulting guidance varies significantly between institutions, raising questions on the methodologies and rigour of individual classification schemes, as well as the transferability of research data between institutions (during collaborations or as researchers move between institutions).

The Response

As part of the the Institutional Underpinnings Research Data Management Network (IU RDM Network), this project mapped alignments between institutional classifications and developed a guiding framework of institutional levers available to support appropriate responses to sensitive research data management. This will act as a ‘Rosetta stone’ between institutions, allowing universities with established frameworks to clearly articulate, benchmark and reassess their approach relative to other Universities. It will provide Universities looking to build their sensitive data capabilities with guidance to direct their efforts.

The Outcomes

Read the following reports:

Who Will Benefit

Research institutions will benefit from:

  • a common framework and shared language to discuss sensitive data management both between and within institutions
  • improved consistency in the approach and guidance provided by research institutions on the management of their sensitive data.

The Partners

  • University of Tasmania
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of New South Wales
  • Monash University
  • Central Queensland University

Further Resources

This project was one of the 4 projects of the IU RDM Network. Read about the other 3 projects:

The IU RDM Network was an extension of the ARDC-led Institutional Underpinning program, which has developed the first RDM framework for Australian universities. Learn more about the program and access the:

Contact the ARDC

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March to November 2023

Current Phase


ARDC Co-investment


Project lead

University of Tasmania

Research Topic