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Research Data Management

Good Practice in Research Data Management

DMU seeks to promote good practice in collecting, storing, curating and, where appropriate, providing access to its research data-sets. The University must also ensure it is compliant with the requirements of external funding bodies on research data management.

Everyone undertaking and/or supporting research at the University should ensure that they are familiar with DMU's guidelines on Good Practice in Research Data Management.

What is classed as research data?

'Research data' are defined as: "records, files or other evidence, whether in print, digital, physical or other formats, that comprise a research project's observations, findings or outputs, including primary materials and analysed data collected from a third party" (Lyon & Pink, 2012).

This might include:

  • Results of experimental work or simulations

  • Statistics and measurements

  • Computational models and software

  • Observations e.g. data collected in the field

  • Survey results, either in print or online

  • Interview recordings and transcripts, and the coding applied to these

  • Other audio or audio-visual material, e.g. musical or dance performances from which data are derived

  • Images from cameras (including smart-phones) and scientific equipment

  • Textual source materials and annotations

It does not include data collected for research administration purposes, such as returns to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Does all research data have to be made open access?

The University believes that, where appropriate, providing open access to its research data will bring significant benefits to the University, to the research community and to wider society.

However, DMU recognises that there are circumstances where access to certain research data will need to be restricted. Decisions about what data should be preserved, and about levels of access and restriction are important elements of effective research data management.

Reasons why it might be inappropriate to make research data openly accessible include:

  • They fall within scope of the University's 'sensitive research' policy, ie data resulting from research into illegal activities, research using normally prohibited websites, research into radicalisation or extremism

  • For reasons of national security

  • To preserve the anonymity of human data subjects (if data anonymisation methods are not possible or feasible)

There will also be cases where access to data may be delayed or subject to restrictions. For example,

  • To allow time for measures to be taken to protect intellectual property (although it is expected that data management plans will have been designed to maximise data sharing and to minimise delays and restrictions due to IP)

  • Where data is jointly owned by third parties, eg. business partners (in this case, collaboration agreements should set out in advance who will have access to data and how this will be governed, so avoiding misunderstandings later in the project)

What is data management planning?

Data Management Planning is normally carried out at the beginning of a research project. A Data Management Plan (DMP) will typically state what data will be created and how they will be created, shared and preserved. It will note any restrictions that may need to be applied and why.

Some funders require researchers to prepare a DMP as part of a grant application, or in the early stages of the project.

Where there is no external funder, or the funder's requirements are unclear, researchers are encouraged to prepare a DMP, before the project begins, in order to organise their thoughts around data management.

What support is available?

DMU is currently developing its research data management support services and information. In the meantime, useful information is provided through the national Digital Curation Centre (DCC).

DMU recommends the use of DMPonline - a free DCC tool for creating and modifying data management plans.

The DMU Guidelines on Research Data Management lists the key DMU contacts for support.

Information on Open Access requirements for publications is available on the Open Access webpage.

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