Research data are the information created or collected in the conduct of research. Often these might be in the form of data files or spreadsheets, but could equally be laboratory notebooks, interview transcripts, audio or video files, photographs, protocols, workflows or software. It all depends on the research being conducted.
Benefits of effective Research Data Management The Research Data Lifecycle
Many funders now require the completion of Data Management Plans. They may provide their own guidance on what to include, but it’s likely to include consideration of how the data will be handled throughout the lifetime of the project and beyond. The UK Data Archive have outlined the issues in a Research Data Lifecycle.
The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) provides a checklist to help you think through the potential issues.
DCC also provide the standard online tool for creating a Data Management Plan, DMP Online which can be used after free registration. DMP Online includes a number of templates including one specifically for HRB.
Science Europe have also published a Practical Guide to DMPs and trustworthy repositories.
Re3data is a directory of data repositories on the web. These are places you can post your own data as well as finding data from other research around the world. Colleagues may also be able to point you to repositories of data in particular fields. Some of the main general repositories include Zenodo, Figshare and Dryad.
A CONUL Information sheet provides more guidance on Where to Submit Data.
Many research funders are now adding requirements for the final research data resulting from funded research to be made Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (known as FAIR). The FAIR principles were originally defined in a Nature journal article in 2016 and have quickly been adopted by funders and research organisations. The European Commission as part of a number of initiatives towards an open science environment have included requirements for research data as part of Horizon 2020, and national funders such as Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board also now have requirements around open data.
Open research data allows access for all to view, check and make use of research data which might otherwise be difficult to access, unclear in nature, or completely unknown to other researchers around the world. There are clear benefits from this transparency to the quality, integrity and reach of research and so to the broader research environment.
FAIR is a set of principles to help achieve as much of the open data agenda as possible. If you imagine holding some data in a spreadsheet one example of the different levels of FAIR are simply illustrated by the 5 star Open Data site . FAIR is not about data quality, it is about a series of measures to make any given data and its metadata more sustainably machine available and reusable, using standard recognised terminology.