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Research Data Management

This toolkit offers guidance for researchers, librarians, and administrators on managing research data

Research Data Management for Researchers

For a great interactive overview, try a Self-Guided Workshop from the University of Illinois Library. Or read the Primer for Researchers on How to Manage Data from Data Curation Network.

The University of California has created a website to help researchers consider how making small changes in how you manage your research data can make a big difference on the impact of your research. Take the time at the beginning of a project to think about how you will handle your data to optimize its reach and utility down the line. Visit Support Your Data at the start of your project to consider how you make your research last longer than the life of your project.

Two overarching representations of the research data management process are available:

Data Lifecycle Stages

Research Data Management is a continuum of practices. It continues throughout the course of a research project. You will likely jump around and move between phases in the lifecycle, but you should always start at the Plan & Design phase. During the Plan & Design phase, you will need to know:

  • your research project,
  • research stakeholders,
  • roles and responsibilities,
  • funder requirements,
  • data goals,
  • and challenges. 

Use a checklist to help plan and design your work:

Review the Support Your Data Project at University of California which presents a holistic look at data management best practices. The project provides a framework for thinking about data throughout the project lifecycle.

You may need to create a Data Management Plan during this phase. Additional guidance for creating a plan is available in this guide under the For Researchers tab. 

Before launching a research project, design a model for capturing, storing, and organizing your data. Consider project

  • workflows (record data procedures, workflows, protocols, and responsibilities),
  • data types (document what types of data will be produced in the project),
  • metadata standards (use common standards including Common Data Elements or other FAIR metadata standards), 
  • formats (chose non-proprietary formats when available or convert to open, non-proprietary, widely used formats for sharing),
  • volume (understand how much data will be created as part of the project),
  • access (document any specialized tools required).

Design how you will store your data:

Store & Manage is a key component of the Data Lifecycle touching on every stage. Researchers will need to plan for:

  • how data sets will be stored during active working phases (including backups) and for long-term retention,
  • retention polices set by funder or institution,
  • data security,
  • and related costs.

Consider data storage requirements for the project.

  • Cornell Data Storage Finder tool provides general guidance for selecting storage and collaboration options.
  • Contact your campus data liaisons to determine computing and storage options available at your institution.
  • Consider tools that support versioning and collaboration such as GitHub, wikis, and shared drives.

Follow required retention and preservation requirements as established by your institution or funding agency. The Data Curation Network has developed extensive guidance on working with and keeping research data.

Find a repository for sharing and publishing:

Data publishing repositories should follow FAIR principles  

In general, raw data are considered facts and cannot be copyrighted. Community norms for data attribution and scholarly communication are often more successful in documenting origins of data than licensing restrictions when possible.

Data license considerations include the following: 

Data Lifecycle

The Data Lifecycle (link to interactive lifecycle) is a representation of stages that occur in your research in regards to how data is collected, used, and stored.