Research Data Management
Why write a research data management plan?
Many funders now require a research data management plan to be included in applications for grants and there is an RCUK set of principles for data. There is also a growing trend towards sharing data - some journals such as Science require this and it is useful to think about this in at the start of your research. If you are working collaboratively it is helpful to make sure everyone understands how data will be collected, who is responsible, how it will be stored etc. Research data can be anything used in research, qualitative as well as quantitative and requirements do not only apply to the sciences.
The Swansea University Research Data Management Policy is expected to be formally adopted in July 2015 in line with the new Research Governance Framework.
What needs to be included in a plan?
Exact requirements will vary between funders and disciplines but there are some key elements to consider:
- The project and its context - why and how your data is going to be created.
- Data formats - you will need to consider any software you will be using, how useable that might be in future, how your data will be structured, documented and quality checked so that it is intelligible to others.
- Ethical considerations - this can vary from considering whether you have obtained consent from research subjects to use their data to who might own the intellectual property in any data you produce.
- Storage - both short and long term storage needs to be considered. You may decide to use one method while you are working on a project but use another if you need to store the data long term as many funders require. Storage needs to be secure and viable for the long term.
- Reuse - consider whether you will be making the data open access or available on request and how this will be managed.
- Resource issues - consider whether there will be any costs involved in managing your data and include this in your grant application where possible. The UK Data Archive have a tool which can be useful in considering research data costs.
The UK Digital Curation Centre have a useful checklist for data management plans.
- AHRC technical plan from the University of Bristol.
- Plans for ESRC and AHRC from University of Leeds
- The Digital Curation Centre has a useful list of examples and guidance.
- Remember to ask colleagues if they have plans they can share - they may have faced the same issues as you.
DMP online tools
- DMP tool from the DCC will help you to produce plans tailored for major UK funders.
- Data Managment Planning tool from University of California Curation Center tailored for US funders
Where can I store my data?
Swansea University has a community on the Zenodo service. This service is run by CERN who are expert at dealing with large datasets and guarantee to migrate the service to other repositories if it discontinued so it is robust enough to satisfy funder requirements. It will also provide a DOI for your data so that it is easier to find and promote.
Zenodo can files of up to 2GB and offers a variety of licences. When choosing a licence you need to consider funder requirements and also whether there is any need for confidentiality in your research. Although Zenodo encourages open data you do not have to make everything open.
Please note that while the university encourages the use of Zenodo for data, publications should always be deposited in the Research Information System.
Funders have differing requirements about the length of plans and what should be included so it is important that you check what they expect.
- AHRC - they refer to a technical plan rather than a data management plan but the considerations are essentially the same.
- Science & Technology Facilities Council
- Cancer Research UK
- Wellcome Trust
- Europe - Horizon 2020
- National Institute of Health (US)
- Mark Hahnel's list of Global Funders who require data archiving as a condition of grants
- Managing and sharing data: best practice for researchers from the UK Data Archive gives a good overview of many of the issues.