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Data requests module


This technical design document describes an approach to implementing support for the submission, review and approval of requests to obtain research data stored in Yoda.


  • Research group A group of researchers belonging to a particular research lab or otherwise collaborating on a common research goal. E.g. the Brain Morphology Lab.

Functional description

The supported workflows are described in this section. A sequence diagram mapping the workflow is shown below.

Workflow sequence diagram

Submission of data requests

A researcher seeking to obtain research data stored in Yoda must be able to submit a request for this data.

The request must belong to a research proposal, which is submitted along with the data request. The research proposal must describe the purpose for which the researcher wants to obtain the requested data.

Management and review of data requests

A delegate of a research programme’s or study’s project manager must be able to perform a cursory preliminary review of a data request.

Likewise, a data manager assigned as a custodian of (certain) data stored in Yoda must be also able to submit a review of a data request.

After these preliminary reviews, a project manager must be able to assign a data request for review to one or more members of a Data Access Committee (DAC)

The DAC member(s) must be able to review research proposals assigned to him.

Final evaluation of research proposals

A project manager must be able to give a final evaluation of a research proposal based on the reviews by the data manager and the DAC member(s), thereby approving or rejecting the data request.

Creation of data transfer agreements (DTAs)

Once a data request and its accompanying research proposal have been approved, the data manager must be able to create a DTA specifying the terms and conditions under which the requested data is made available to the requesting researcher.

Approval of DTAs

Once a DTA has been created, the requesting researcher must be able to view the DTA and register his agreement to the terms and conditions specified therein.

Release of requested data

After the DTA has been signed by the requesting researcher, the data manager may release the requested data to him. The means by which the data is transferred to the researcher is outside of the scope of the data request module.

Technical description

To keep the complexity of the module to a minimum, existing Yoda functionality and modules are used to implement the functional requirements.

Submission of data requests

To allow anyone, including newly registered Yoda users, to submit a data request, a public iRODS collection (named, for example, “datarequests”) must be created. When a data request is submitted through a web form by a researcher, a subcollection is created which will act as a folder for all files related to the research proposal. The data request and research proposal is then saved to this subcollection as a JSON-formatted file.

Because researchers only have ownership of subcollections they themselves have created, they cannot access data requests by other researchers.

Management and review of data requests

Project managers and data managers must be able to view all submitted data requests. They are enabled to do so by membership of a group (e.g. “brainmorphlab-datamanagers”; see Group Manager) that has group manager permissions on the public collection mentioned above (these include read and write permissions). Because these permissions are recursive, they also apply to the subcollections made by researchers.

Upon assignment of a research proposal for evaluation to a DAC member, the DAC member is granted read and write permissions on the subcollection in which the research proposal is stored.

DAC membership is determined by membership of a particular group (e.g. “brainmorphlab-dac”), acting as a pool from which the data manager may pick an appropriate member.

A DAC member can evaluate a research proposal through a web form. The evaluation is saved as a JSON-formatted file in the subcollection that also holds the research proposal itself.

Because multiple research groups may use a Yoda instance, multiple data manager and DAC groups may be created so that data requests meant for data of a particular research group can be handled by data managers associated with that research group.

Final evaluation of research proposals

Project managers also belong to a particular group (e.g. “brainmorphlab-pm”. They have the same rights as those in the data manager group, thus allowing them to view the research proposal and associated reviews.

A project manager can approve a research proposal through a web form that sets the value of the status AVU of the research proposal subcollection to “approved”.

Creation of DTAs

After the data request has been approved, the data manager creates a DTA and adds it as a PDF file to the subcollection (through a web form). The researcher will receive a request to upload as signed copy of this document.

Approval of DTAs

The DTA created by the data manager is made available to the researcher. Once the researcher has created a signed copy of the document, he can upload it through a web form. The signed copy is saved in the subcollection. The data may now be made available to the researcher by the data manager.