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Research Data Management

A library guide that addresses FAIR principles, policies and ethics, data planning, storing, and sharing data.

Introduction

What is research data?

Research data is the information, records, and files that are collected or used during the research process. Data may be numerical, descriptive, visual, raw, analysed, experimental, or observational.

Some examples of research data include:

  • laboratory notebooks
  • field notebooks
  • primary research data from your experiments, field observations, questionnaires, focus groups and surveys
  • sound and video recordings
  • photographs
  • models
  • artefacts from an archeological dig
  • computer code

Research data does not include references, literature reviews, or the end product of the research undertaken such as a published article.

The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) explains more about: What is research data?


Why manage research data?

Grant and funding bodies require research data to be managed through its lifecycle. You may need to provide information about the data or the data itself, for example, some journals require it or you may want to patent an invention.  

Creating a research data management plan at the start of the research project is the simplest way to save time in the collection, description, analysis, and reuse of the data. Effective management and documentation of research data means you can verify your research results, replicate the research, and provide access to data.

FAIR Data Principles

The FAIR Data Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) were drafted at a Lorentz Center workshop in Leiden in the Netherlands in 2015, and have since received worldwide recognition by various organisations, including FORCE11, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the European Commission, as a useful framework for thinking about sharing data in a way that will enable maximum use and reuse. They are a way of thinking about getting the most out of your research data, and its place in the wider researcher community.

Findable

Can your data be found if someone is looking for it? Does it have a DOI or a Handle? Does it have rich metadata? Is it discoverable through a research portal or a repository? 

Accessible

Does your data utilise a standardised protocol? Your data does not necessarily have to be "open" - there are sometimes good reasons why data cannot be made open, i.e. privacy concerns, national security, or commercial interests - but if it is not there should be clarity and transparency around the conditions governing access and reuse.

Interoperable

To be interoperable the data will need to use community agreed formats, language, and vocabularies. Will someone who finds your data be able to meaningfully reuse it, and build or reproduce your work? The metadata you use will also need to use community agreed standards and vocabularies, and contain links to related information using identifiers.

Reusable

Reusable data should maintain its initial richness. For example, it should not be diminished for the purpose of explaining the findings in one particular publication. It needs a clear machine-readable licence and provenance information on how the data was formed. It should also have discipline-specific data and metadata standards to give it rich contextual information that will allow for reuse.‚Äč

CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance

The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance guide appropriate use and reuse of Indigenous data. This set of principles indicates the significant and crucial role of data in advancing Indigenous innovation and self-determination.

Collective benefit

Data ecosystems should be designed and function in ways that enable Indigenous Peoples to derive benefit from the data.

Authority to control

Indigenous Peoples' rights and interests in Indigenous data must be recognised and their authority to control such data should be empowered. Indigenous data governance enables Indigenous Peoples to determine how they are represented within data.

Responsibility

Those working with Indigenous data have a responsibility to share how this data is used to support Indigenous Peoples' self-determination and collective benefit.

Ethics

Indigenous Peoples' rights and wellbeing should be the primary concern at all stages of the data life cycle.

Global Indigenous Data Alliance. CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance