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Research Data Management: Start Here

What am I trying to achieve?

Data created from research are valuable resources that can be used and reused for future scientific and educational purposes.

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.

Visualisation of the data lifecycle

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.

What counts as 'data'?

image of a pile of papersRDM 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
Quotations Test results Models

Open Data

logo for the open data movementOpen access to the data underlying research findings is essential component of Open Research:  "the idea that... knowledge of all kinds should be openly shared as early as it is practical in the discovery process”.  (Michael Nielsen, one of the leading advocates of the Open  Research movement).

Open access to research data demonstrates academic integrity, supports reproducibility, increases opportunities for impact, and contributes to public engagement.   

Even sensitive data which cannot be shared openly can be managed according to Open Research principles: make a public statement about the nature of your data, and invite people to contact you for further information.

It's important to plan for openness from the start of your project: file names, sizes, formats and locations will be critical factors in the discoverability and usability of your data.  The cost of preserving and sharing your data may need to be built in to your project budget. If you are working with collaborators, a shared understanding of how you will handle data files will save time and resources.

Why should I share my data?

NewA recent study published in the open access journal PLOS One demonstrates that papers which include a data access statement are more likely to be cited than those without.  The authors discuss possible explanations for this finding.

Colavizza et al (2020) The citation advantage of linking publications to research data.