What is research data management?

Research data management refers to all aspects of creating, housing, delivering, maintaining, archiving and preserving research data. It is one of the essential areas of responsible conduct of research.

Why manage data?

Increasingly, universities now encourage all researchers to undertake data management planning at the start of their research project. Before starting a new research project, principal investigators (PIs), research teams, and postgraduate students must address issues related to data management.

Many university libraries in the world are involved in research data management services and are playing lead roles in their respective institutions in designing services.

The development of research data management is influenced by many issues, such as the widespread use of born-digital data, increasing emphasis on research integrity and changes in scholarly communication world.

Research data is an important component of research. It has evidentiary value which is essential to ascertaining the integrity of research. Good stewardship of research data can bring many benefits to the researchers as well as their institutions. The success of your research project depends on how well you manage your data throughout the lifecycle of your research.

The benefits of managing data include:

  • Ensuring research integrity and reproducibility.
  • Increasing your research efficiency.
  • Ensuring research data and records are accurate, complete, authentic and reliable.
  • Saving time and resources in the long run.
  • Enhancing data security and minimising the risk of data loss.
  • Preventing duplication of effort by enabling others to use your data.
  • Complying with practices conducted in industry and commerce.
  • Facilitating the analysis of change, by providing data with which data at other points in time can be compared.
  • Meeting funding body grant requirements (if applicable)

(Source: MANTRA)

When to manage your data?

It is recommended that you start your data management planning early, preferably at the research proposal stage, A systematic approach in data management planning is to examine the entire research data lifecycle, i.e.:

  • Data creation
  • Data processing
  • Data analysis
  • Data preservation
  • Data access
  • Data reuse

More on Data lifecycle 

Video: Research data management and sharing

Delegates of Research Waste / EQUATOR conference, University of Edinburgh September 2015, respond to questions about research data management and sharing. The video is part of the University of North Carolina / University of Edinburgh Coursera MOOC, ‘Research Data Management and Sharing‘. 

(Source: Data Library team, EDINA, University of Edinburgh)


Video: Importance of data management 

Professor Lynn Jamieson, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh, talks about the importance of data management in research.

(Source: MANTRA – University of Edinburgh Data Library)


Video: Introduction to Research Data Management

This 30 minute session will introduce you to the key principles of managing your research data.

(Source: University of Leicester)

Further readings:

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