Scholarly Communications: Research Data Management
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.
Data Management Plans
A data management plan (DMP) is "A formal statement describing how research data will be managed and documented throughout a research project and the terms regarding the subsequent deposit of the data with a data repository for long-term management and preservation."
Funding Body Example Data Management Plans
Funding bodies increasingly have policies on research data management or data sharing [link to list]. Funders do not usually ask for a lengthy data management plan; for example, the US’s National Science Foundation (NSF) policy states that as of January 18, 2011 all NSF proposals must have a supplementary document of no more than two pages labelled data management plan.
More information is available here.