1. Introduction

Québec-Océan (QO) is a strategic cluster of oceanographic researchers from the principal Québec universities and their governmental and private sector partners. QO has approximately 220 members, for the most part, divided between Université Laval, Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR), Université McGill, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC), Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique – Eau-Terre-Environnment (INRS-ETE), and the Maurice-Lamontagne Institute (Fisheries and Oceans, Canada). Their fields of expertise range from physics to geology, chemistry, and biology. Québec-Océan's mission is to support Québec researchers and the training of students, to promote excellence in oceanographic research and the dissemination of knowledge.

The abundant data generated by researchers are increasingly in demand, not only by the scientists themselves, but also by government officials, industry, conservation organizations and the general public. With growing technological and computer facilities that allow the acquisition and treatment of an impressive amount of data of all kinds, it is now possible to conduct very informative meta-analyzes and meta-syntheses. Local or point data, stemming from many studies, can be combined in a large-scale datasets to obtain answers to complex issues, currently of global concern, that would not have come to light in the original studies. It is therefore quite pertinent to favor the archiving, interpretation, and dissemination of data generated by Québec-Océan members. Since the group cannot itself ensure data archiving and dissemination, it participates in the development of data management platforms. Québec-Océan intends to promote the achievements of its members and ensure data continuity through its Data Management Policy (DMP).

An ad hoc committee was put in place in October 2013 to write Québec-Océan's DMP project, as presented here, and to propose incentives for the group's members to archive and disseminate their data. The policy and its incentives have been ratified by the Board of Directors.


2. Objectives

The main goal of the Québec-Océan's data management policy is to facilitate the exchange of data between researchers and other interest groups in Québec, Canada and at the international level. This includes easier access to data archiving sites to secure data and ensure their sustainability. This policy also includes recommendations for data and metadata formatting, so the data follows international standards and are compatible with the widest possible range of data exchange platforms. The second goal is to provide a forum for members to showcase their research results, beyond presenting them in publications and at conferences.


3. Data definition

Québec-Océan data are those collected and generated by QO members. It is imperative that these data be associated with the metadata that describes the context of their creation. The metadata are used as reference points for the data sets. However, the metadata can be archived independently of the data. Throughout the remainder of the DMP the word « data » is used to refer equally to the metadata and the data.


4. Data management and Hosting

Considering QO's limited resources, the group does not host data, but actively participates in the archiving and dissemination efforts in multiple ways, such as:

  • For the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf data, Québec-Océan collaborates with the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski (ISMER), the St. Lawrence Global Observatory (SLGO), and the Maurice-Lamontagne Institute (MLI) on the archiving in the Environmental Data Management System (EDMS) and on the dissemination of data through the SLGO's website. The EDMS was originally oriented towards the archiving of physical data such as those from CTDs (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth), but it is structured to host most types of environmental data.
  • For the Arctic Ocean data, Québec-Océan is collaborating with ArcticNet to archive and disseminate data through the Polar Data Catalogue.

Furthermore, Québec-Océan devotes a page on its website to promote data archiving, including:
- archiving templates specific to different types of data;
- links toward relevant online data repositories;
- data references.


5. Measures favouring archiving

QO encourages all of its members to archive their data by way of targeted actions and the availability of tools to facilitate operations. This is particularly intended for recent data, but ideally, older data should also be archived.

QO requires its members, whose projects were funded by QO, to archive their data.

In all cases, QO asks its members to inform QO's resource personnel of their data archiving activities so a register of the references can be compiled on the QO website.

For everyone's benefit, QO urges its members to archive their data as rapidly as possible, no later than 3 years after acquisition. Publication of research results in open access journals, which offers the benefit of archiving data in electronic supplements or dedicated tables, is particularly recommended. It should be noted that in most cases, a request can be made to the archiving and data dissemination sites to restrict data access for a certain period of time. The eventual restricted access will be indicated in QO's data references.


6. Data format

The ISO 19115:2003 standard has become the international reference for geographical information in the field of metadata. This standard provides information about the identification, extent, quality, spatial and temporal references, and distribution of digital geographical data. Québec-Océan therefore recommends the use of this standard. The Polar Data Catalogue provides documentation on this subject.

To archive oceanographic data in the Environmental Data Management System (EDMS), the format to follow is the Ocean Data Format (ODF) type. It is a text format initially developed at the Bedford Oceanographic Institute (Fisheries and Oceans, Canada) to describe physical, biological, and chemical Québec-Océan: March 31, 2014 data series. An ODF file is comprised of a set of blocks of headers that describe the data, followed by the data block. A precise description of the ODF format can be found at the following address:

As for the Polar Data Catalogue, the data are structured according to the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) format, which is compatible with ISO standards. The Polar Data Catalogue was developed by ArcticNet, in partnership with the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network (CCIN). A complete description of the format can be found in:


7. Intellectual Property (IP) and responsibility

Data ownership is determined by Canadian law and by the policies of institutions to which the authors belong. QO is in no way involved in the intellectual property of data.
QO is generally not responsible for the quality of its members' data. Physical data, such as water body temperature, salinity and density, should be validated by the person responsible for the quality of the data and are therefore presumed to be of good quality. However, with respect to possible errors, QO offers no guarantee regarding data.
In all cases, data users are responsible for their use of the data.
Québec-Océan invites users to report errors to the data manager of the data base used (ODMS: Pascal Guillot,, T. 418 723 1986 # 1896).


8. Data acknowledgment

The users of QO members' data must formally acknowledge data producers (authors) and distributors. Data citation must follow as much as possible the rules of the data base where they are archived. Otherwise, the author-date system must be applied, using the following model if possible:


Author(s) (year of data acquisition) Title. Date of data archiving, Archiving site, Distributor, Numbered reference.

The data user must inform the data contributor of any work involving the latter's data. The user must specify how the data were used to produce his/her work.

Examples of references:

Gagné JP (2007) Mission EGSL 2007 : Données CTD. Archives de données environnementales (ISMER/QO) dans, Observatoire global du Saint-Laurent.

Tremblay J-E (2011) Nutrient data for the Northwest Passage in 2011 (ArcticNet 2011-leg 3). Metadata accessed 2012-01-24 at, Canadian Cryospheric Information Network (CCIN) 11259.

Hop H, C-J Mundy, M Gosselin, AL Rossnagel, D Barber (2011) Chlorophyll a concentration and zooplankton abundance and biomass below melting sea ice in the Amundsen Gulf. doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.811354