Make your data count

My project is in progress

Apples 2 - blossom with borderAny project can be helped to run more smoothly by having a working environment which is set up to best effect. The ideal time to think about this is as soon as you’ve got the go ahead to start your research project – but it’s never too late to make some improvements.

  • Ensure you have suitable arrangements in place for storing your data securely, backing it up, and sharing it with any colleagues who need access to it.
    • Think about how you will keep track of different versions of your data, and ensure that you’re always working with the most up-to-date copy.
    • See the Backup, storage, and security page for more details.
  • If you’re working with data that is confidential or otherwise sensitive, ensure you have arrangements in place to store it securely and make sure it’s handled appropriately.
    • If you will be working with human subjects, any possible future reuse and sharing of the data should be considered when you apply for ethical approval, and as you seek consent from participants.
    • See the Ethical issues and data protection page for more details. The UK Data Archive also has a helpful section on Consent and ethics.
    • General advice about keeping data secure can be found on the University’s Information Security website.
  • Think about how your data can best be organised and structured, so that you can easily find what you’re looking for.
    • Consider establishing a set of standard working practices (e.g. ways of processing new data, file naming conventions, etc.). This is particularly important if you’re working as part of a team, but is well worth doing even if you’re a lone researcher.
    • Ensure you have suitable processes in place for documenting data – that is, for recording all the contextual information needed to allow it to be properly interpreted in the future.
    • If you’re working as part of a team, it’s helpful to consider what would happen if someone left the project part way through. What would need to be in place to ensure others could quickly pick up the work and make sense of the data collected so far?
    • See the Organising your data page for more details.
  • It’s good practice to review your data management plan from time to time. This allows you to update it to reflect any recent project developments, and provides an opportunity to reflect on how your current data management practices are working.
  • If you’re using new or unfamiliar technologies, look for relevant courses – for example, via the IT Learning Programme.
  • If you need a project website, discuss with departmental IT support or the IT Services Research Support team.