Read this: Core principles of Research Data Management
This page provides an overview of the core principles of Research Data Management. It will be helpful for you to consider, no matter the stage of your research project. Generally speaking, however, the earlier you reflect on data management and how you will manage this, the easier it will be to manage your project.
What am I trying to achieve?
Good data management practices are essential in research, to make sure that research data are of high quality, are well organised, documented, preserved and accessible and their validity controlled at all times.
Well-managed data are easily shared and can thus be used for new research or to duplicate and validate existing research.
Research Data Management (RDM) needs to be planned early in a project (or beforehand), so that practices can be implemented throughout the research cycle.
This text and graphic has been adapted from the UK Data Service's training materials for 'Preparing and Managing Data'. The UK Data Service is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to meet the data needs of researchers, students and teachers from all sectors.
See also: A Guide to Research Data Management (2021), from the British Library - a concise overview of core principles for beginners, with key terms explained in plain English.
What counts as 'data'?
RDM is not just for scientists! Research 'data' (or 'material') comes in many forms. For instance:
|Diaries||Audio recordings and transcripts||Lab/field notebooks|
|Search histories||Photographs and videos||Source code|
|Bibliographies||Survey responses||Specimens and samples|
University of Hull Policy
A policy statement applying to all research carried out at the University of Hull was issued by Research Committee in December 2019, "to establish principles for effective management of the research data generated within the University, and its dissemination":
Some points to note:
- The policy applies to research carried out by staff and students, with or without external funding.
- All research projects should have a data management plan, stored with other project documentation.
- Ethical approval for projects making use of personal/sensitive data must consider management of the data.
- Research data stored on University systems should not be retained for longer than 5 years without a review.
- Completed datasets should be catalogued on the University's Research Information System (currently Worktribe).
- Research data should be shared openly whenever possible, by depositing it in the University's Repository or an external service.
- On leaving the University, researchers must ensure that the University retains access to (a copy of) their data.
Completion of the University's Data Protection and Information Security online module (accessed via the E-Learning Portal) is mandatory for all University of Hull staff.
Further reading about principles and good practice when managing sensitive data.
Funders' policies on sharing research data
UKRI Seven Common Principles on Data Policy (updated 2021): an overarching framework for research councils' policies, plus guidance documentation.
Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner.
See the tab for your funding council for further information.
To meet the terms of UKRI's revised Open Access Policy (2021), all in-scope journal articles acknowledging UKRI funding:
should contain a Data Access Statement. This informs readers where the underlying research materials associated with a paper are available, and how the research materials can be accessed. The statement can include links to the dataset, where applicable and appropriate.
BBSRC Data Sharing Policy (2017):
BBSRC expects research data generated as a result of BBSRC support to be made available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner to the scientific community for subsequent research.
Applicants seeking research funding from BBSRC must provide a one-page Data Management Plan, including the details of the volume, type and content of data that will be generated, the standards and methodologies that will be adopted, further intended and/or foreseeable uses for the data, and methods and timescales for data sharing.
Funding to support the management and sharing of research data (for example staffing, physical resources such as storage and networking capability) can be requested as part of the full economic cost of a BBSRC research project - see Costing Research Data Management.
"Data arising from the research that CRUK funds should be managed and made available to the academic community for academic non-commercial research purposes as widely and freely as possible to maximise public benefit, while safeguarding the privacy of research participants".
Funded researchers are required to adhere to FAIR principles for data sharing, whilst ensuring compliance with any applicable ethical requirements and protecting confidential and proprietary data.
Published research papers should include a short statement describing how and on what terms any supporting research data may be accessed... Organisations will ensure that EPSRC-funded research data is securely preserved for a minimum of 10 years from the date that any researcher ‘privileged access’ period expires or, if others have accessed the data, from last date on which access to the data was requested by a third party.
ESRC Research Data Policy (2018):
All data created or repurposed during the lifetime of an ESRC grant must be made available for re-use or archiving within three months of the end of the grant. Grant holders must provide metadata for resource discovery via the UK Data Service to maximise the discoverability of ESRC data assets.
For guidance on the issues to address when preparing a data management plan for an application for ESRC funding, see the ESRC-specific Requirements for the Je-S submission system.
See also the guide to Submitting Datasets to the UK Data Service.
The European Commission's Open Research Europe platform is "an open access publishing platform for the publication of research stemming from Horizon 2020 funding across all subject areas. The platform makes it easy for Horizon 2020 beneficiaries to comply with the open access terms of their funding and offers researchers a publishing venue to share their results and insights rapidly and facilitate open, constructive research discussion".
Although ORE does not currently operate as a data repository, researchers are encouraged to submit a Data Note: a dataset description including "rationale, protocol, validation and limitation details" and a data availability statement, to facilitate citation. ORE's Data Guidelines provide practical advice about preparing your data for deposit, a helpful list of 'approved' repositories for a range of disciplines and data types, and a 4-page Guide to Open Data, relevant to all disciplines.
Horizon-funded researchers also benefit from the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), providing services and tools for research data registration, annotation and discovery.
Researchers awarded funding under the new Horizon Europe programme will be required to deliver a data management plan within 6 months of the project start date, informed by FAIR principles and a commitment to preserve data "as open as possible; as closed as necessary".
MRC Data Sharing Policy (2016):
Research data generated in the course of MRC-funded research must be retained in an appropriate format in line with agreed retention periods
- these differ for basic research, clinical studies and population health data; the retention period may be as long as 20 years.
See the MRC's Guidance for Researchers on the website above for advice about patient confidentiality, consent forms, supporting material and more.
NERC Data Policy (2019):
- NERC-funded scientists must make their data openly available within two years of collection and deposit it in a NERC Environmental Data Centre for long term preservation.
- All applications for NERC funding must include an outline Data Management Plan, which must identify which of the data sets being produced are considered to be of long-term value, based on the criteria in NERC’s Data Value Checklist. The funding application must also identify all resources needed to implement the Data Management Plan.
- All successful applications will be required to produce a detailed data management plan in conjunction with the appropriate NERC Data Centre... [and] work with the appropriate Centre to implement the plan, ensuring that data of long-term value are submitted... in an agreed format and accompanied by all necessary metadata.
- Model code and model data produced through NERC-funded research are [also] valuable assets which should be preserved beyond the lifetime of the project.
- All research publications arising from NERC funding must include a statement on how the supporting data and any other relevant research materials can be accessed.
Researchers are required to...
- Provide to NIHR a data management and access plan, which must be published (for example through a trial registry, the NIHR Funding and Awards website or a study website). NIHR will monitor the submission and implementation of data management and access plans.
- Include information on how to access the data, through a data sharing statement, when publishing the findings of the research.
- The NIHR recognises that the sharing of research data must: protect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals; respect the terms of consent by individuals who are involved in research; be consistent with relevant legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks; and guard against unreasonable costs.
Key contacts at the University of Hull
Planning for the preservation and dissemination of your data in line with research funder/publisher terms:
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Kirstyn Radford, Research Outputs Specialist, Brynmor Jones Library)
Data protection, research integrity and ethics:
- email@example.com (Angela Clement, Data Protection Officer)
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Katie Skilton, Research Governance and Policy Manager)
- Your Faculty Ethics Committee can advise on any data protection issues identified during the process of gaining approval for a new project
Data ownership and licensing:
- email@example.com (Mike Khuphe, Intellectual Property Officer)
Data handling, including secure file storage, software installation and use of the University's High Performance Computer (VIPER) for processing high volumes of research data with low levels of sensitivity:
Hull Health Trials Unit provides specialist support for clinical research, including mediated access to NHS data, and services to facilitate storage and processing of sensitive data, such as the Data Safe Haven: