Research Data Management
All research involves the creation or use of data in some way in order to support or validate its claims to knowledge. Good research data management plays an important role in the integrity of a research project and needs to be present throughout its lifecycle, from the early planning stages, to data collection, analysis, and sharing and archiving at the end of the project. More and more funders, such as the UK Research Councils, require the projects they fund to consider how they will manage their data, including how they will share the data and make it accessible to the public.
Effective management of research data improves efficiency, reduces the risk of loss of data, and enables data to be re-used and shared, thus providing best value for money.
Sharing your research data has a number of benefits:
- Enables research results to be independently validated
- Provides opportunities for collaborative work and partnerships
- Increases the impact of research, by improving visibility and increasing citations
- Enables datasets to be used in new ways
The University of Wolverhampton recognises the importance of sharing research data to both research excellence and the research community: the Research Data Management Policy highlights the university’s commitment to the effective management of research data.
The Digital Curation Centre provides useful summaries of UK funders’ data policies including the UK Research Councils, the European Commission (Horizon 2020) and the Wellcome Trust. See below for individual data management plan/policy requirements:
A good research data management plan will outline how you will collect, process and analyse, publish, share, preserve and re-use data. All research proposals should include data management plans, guided either by the requirements of the funder or best practice in the research community.
A useful checklist highlights the key themes and questions researchers should consider when writing DMPs. The DCC’s online tool DMPonline can be used to create your own plan and even tailor it to funder requirements.
Key areas to consider when working with data:
File formats- Which file format should you use for your data? Is it an ‘open’ format? A useful guide to recommended and acceptable formats is provided by the UK Data Service
Metadata- How will you describe your data so that others are able find and re-use your data? Accurate and detailed metadata are key to the discoverability of data and you should try to use schemas and standards relevant to your discipline for your data. The RDA Metadata Directory contains links to a wide range of schema by discipline. The DDC also has a guide to metadata.
Storage and Security- Having a strategy to keep your data secure during your research project is imperative in order to prevent data loss. How do you plan to do this? How will you back up your data? Do you need to plan for dealing with sensitive data? Are you compliant with data protection legislation? The UK Data Service provides guidance on storing data securely.
A useful guide to file formats, version control, data security, consent and confidentiality is provided in Managing and Sharing Data by the UK Data Archive.
Data repositories are places where you can both store your data and find datasets to enhance or create new research outputs. Below you can find resources to help locate repositories to deposit your data.
OpenDOAR Directory of Open Access Repositories
Questions to think about when choosing a repository for your data:
- Will it accept your data?
- How long will you be able to store your data?
- Is it reliable?
Jisc Research Data Management Toolkit Provides guidance on data management planning, policy compliance, storing and backing up active data, data preservation and protecting personally identifiable information.
UK Data Service guidance for managing data Information on data management planning, legal and ethical issues, documenting and formatting data, tools and templates.
MANTRA Free online course provided by the University of Edinburgh.
CESSDA Guide created by European experts, aimed at social science researchers but with accessible to researchers from a variety of disciplines.
Coursera Free comprehensive course covering a range of topics including data management planning, archiving and using metadata.