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Research Data Management: Why Manage Research Data?

Bringing together University resources and services to facilitate researchers in the production of high quality data

Benefits of Managing Research Data

Research data are a valuable resource that often requires a great deal of time and money to create. There are a number of very good reasons why research data should be managed in an appropriate and timely manner:

  • To ensure research integrity and validation of results. Accurate and complete research data are an essential part of the evidence necessary for evaluating and validating research results and for reconstructing the events and processes leading to them.
     
  • To increase research efficiency. Good research data management will enable you to organise your files and data for access and analysis without difficulty. Consider for instance what would happen if a member of a research team were to leave during the course of a particular project. Well managed research data helps newcomers to understand the nature and the extent of work done so far. Well managed data also helps individual researchers track the course of their own progress.
     
  • To facilitate data security and minimise the risk of data loss. Use of robust and appropriate data storage facilities will help to reduce the loss of your data through accidents, or neglect. 
     
  • To ensure wider dissemination and increased impact. Research data, if correctly formatted, described and attributed, will have significant ongoing value and can continue to have impact long after the completion of a research project. Perhaps the most common reason to retain and manage research data, is to facilitate online sharing. 
     
  • To enable research continuity through secondary data use. Good research data management will permit new and innovative research to be built on existing information. So the importance of research data quality and provenance is paramount, particularly when data sharing and re-use is becoming increasingly important within and across disciplines. Sharing well-managed research data and enabling others to use it will also help to prevent duplication of effort.
     
  • To ensure compliance with a funding agency’s requirements. An increasing number of funding bodies request or require that their funding recipients create and follow plans for managing data, storing or preserving it in the long term, and sharing some, or all data products with the public.

Effective management of research data will:

Prof. Lynn Jamieson, University of Edinburgh, talks about the importance of data management in research

Scenario

"I feel very fortunate that participants agree to share their ideas and life stories with me in the context of my research. These are very meaningful, but also, at times, very sensitive data. Therefore my first concern is the short and long-term protection of this data. Collaboration is also a key aspect of my research, and I want to be able to share relevant data easily and securely with selected individuals. Developing a data management plan which follows best practice in this area ensures that my data sharing practices are ethical and efficient. It also helps me to save time and avoid data loss, as I have planned my data management in advance rather than doing so by trial and error."
Annie Blanchette, PhD student, The Business School, University of Exeter

Funding Agencies and Publishers

Funding agencies and publishers are increasingly expecting and requiring the data generated during the course of a research project  to be shared or deposited in an accessible data centre or repository. 

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