Research data management is a general term covering how you organize, structure, store, and care for the information used or generated during a research project. It includes:
- Planning how your data will be looked after – many funders now require data management plans as part of applications
- How you deal with information on a day-to-day basis over the lifetime of a project
- What happens to data in the longer term – what you do with it after the project concludes
Definition of data
The University of Oxford Policy on the Management of Data Supporting Research Outputs uses the following definition for data:
“the recorded information (regardless of the form or the media in which it may exist) necessary to support or validate a research project’s observations, findings or outputs, or which is required for legal or regulatory compliance“.
In practice, the nature of research data can vary widely depending on discipline: it can be textual, numerical, qualitative, quantitative, final, preliminary, physical, digital or print.
Benefits of research data management
Data management is a key part of responsible research. Good practice in managing your data will ensure benefits ensue for you, your fellow researchers and the wider public.
- Funding and regulatory body requirements are met.
- Research data remains accurate, authentic, reliable and complete.
- Duplication of effort is kept to a minimum.
- Research data keeps its integrity and research results may be replicated.
- Data security is enhanced, thus minimising the risk of data loss.