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Research data management

What is research data?

Research data is information collected or generated while carrying out research.  The data might be qualitative or quantitative and can be in a range of different forms.  Examples of research data include statistical data, questionnaire responses, interview transcripts, and audiovisual materials.

What is research data management?

Research data management (RDM) means the handling of research data and is an important part of the research process.  The principal investigator on a research project is usually responsible for research data management.

Effective research data management ensures that you comply with funder and legislative requirements, reduces the risk of data loss, demonstrates research integrity, and facilitates the re-use of data.

Data management planning

At the start of a research project it's good practice to create a data management plan.  Some funders require this as part of their application process.

The data management plan should set out how data will be captured, stored, managed, and shared throughout the lifecycle of the research project.

Detailed guidance on how to create a data management plan is provided by the Digital Curation Centre.

During a research project

Store your data securely and regularly backed it up to avoid data loss and unauthorised access.  Use standard file formats e.g. Word, Excel wherever possible as proprietary formats may become inaccessible over time.

Research data can easily become disorganised, especially when multiple researchers are working on a project.  To avoid this, agree a convention for naming and organising files and folders.  File names should be consistent, meaningful, and make clear which is the most recent version of a document.

Sharing research data

When a research project is complete, you will need to decide which data to dispose of and which to preserve and share where appropriate.  Delete any data that is that is longer needed, taking extra care with any sensitive information.

Data can be preserved and shared by adding it to Pure or submitting it to a data repository such as FigShare.

Any research outputs based on your data should include a Data Access Statement that sets out where the data associated with the publication can be found, a persistent identifier e.g. a DOI, and any restrictions on the use of the data.

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