A well developed plan for data management at the start of a research project is a way to ensure a solid structure for research data from the get-go. It gives a reviewable framework to the project, and is a way to prevent the need for unnecessary work in hindsight.
Contacts and organisation at Umeå University for research data management.
Reasons to prioritise RDM
There are four major reasons that emphasise the importance of managing research data in a well-thought through manner.
Fulfilling laws, ethical guidelines, regulations, requirements and other undertakings regulating the processing of and access to research data.
Making sure that research data is stored in a safe and sustainable way, through a solution that can withstand system failures, tampering or similar issues.
The potential to link results, analyses and conclusions to the related research data is key for the credibility of ones research. To make this feasible, research data must be well-organised and understandable.
It is an advantage if research data produced in a research project can be reused. The likelihood for this increases if the procedures for research data management are well-thought through and if the research data is processed in a way that is interoperable with other systems.
Data management plan – a central element in a project
When applying for funding, many funding bodies require a data management plan (DMP). A DMP can, except for being a part of a funding application, function as a management tool and a framework for the project. A DMP is a way to uphold a structured management of research data during the ongoing project, and to plan for as well as keep a clear perspective on what will happen to the research data after the conclusion of the project.
If the project is collaborative and contains several contributors, it is also a practical means for communication regarding areas such as:
the agreed upon work process
role distribution within the project
ownership of data and data sources and
synchronization of data processing.
The DMP is to be seen as a live document. Long-term work of continuously planning and revising a DMP is both a way to ensure good prerequisites for consistent data management during the project, as well as a way to make sure that the project data is prepared for storing and publishing at the end of the project.
It is an advantage to already from the start consider what information about research data need to be documented in order to be able to register an elaborate, generous and well composed metadata description of the data at the conclusion of the project. The metadata description is key to fulfilling the FAIR principles, something that several external research funders expect of their funded projects.
Contact the library research data team for advice or a read through of a DMP. We provide feedback, and help answering questions. We can also refer to specialists in other parts of the university and the national infrastructure when needed. SND is also available to help with advice and support.
The FAIR principles are a commonly known tool that, if followed, amount to a way of ensuring a high and consistent quality when working with RDM regarding findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of research data. Accessibility within the framework of FAIR does not mean that you must make you research data openly accessible to all. However, the degree of accessibility and details on how access to the data can be gained must be clearly communicated by way of the associated metadata. RDM according to the FAIR principles is sometimes required when conducting research projects financed by external funding bodies.
Information security, sensitive data and legal aspects of research data
For resources and information about information security, information classification, legal status of research data, personal data processing, GDPR and legal counselling, we recommend contacting the university legal officers, the archive and IT specialists.