Correct and efficient data management during the whole life cycle is important, and may determine how successful your research is. Good-quality research requires good data management. Quality assurance in data management safeguards the integrity, reliability, authenticity and efficiency of your research.
Data management plan (DMP)
A good DMP saves time and resources in the long run. It guarantees data safety and access to and re-usability of data. It should be possible to re-use data for other purposes than the original one. This means that you need to have a preservation strategy in place already at the start of the project.
The researcher/doctoral student is responsible for keeping the plan updated during the entire project. The plan should answer the following questions:
- What data will be collected?
- How will data be described? What metadata standards, data collection protocols and guidelines will be used?
- How will the data be organised? What file names and file formats will be used?
- How much data will be collected, and how often will they be updated?
- What will be done to avoid data losses or data not being re-usable?
- Are there any specific requirements regarding confidentiality, personal integrity, patents, ethics?
- Who is responsible for the data?
- Is any specific software needed to produce, process or visualise the data?
- What data will it be possible to reproduce?
- How will data be made available through OA publishing?
- What permanent identifiers will be assigned to the data?
- How, for how long and where will the data be preserved?
Data publishing plan (DPP)
The Swedish Research Council (VR) recommends that a data publishing plan be annexed to applications for research grants if data collection consitutes a major part of the project. The purpose of the plan is to make data collected through public funding available within a reasonable period of time, and to make it possible to re-use such data in other projects. Enclosing a data publishing plan with the application is not a requirement, and new guidelines are being drafted for disseminating data collected in state-funded projects.
The data publishing plan should contain the following:
- Description of data, including an overview of metadata
- Informatio on data collection method, data format and where data will be stored.
- Information on how data will be published and reasons for delayed publishing, if applicable.
- Information on costs related to data publishing.
- Contact details for the person in charge of data publishing.
Data preservation plan (DPP)
For research records to be usable both short term and long term, good data management and documentaion are needed. It is of utmost importance to validate the value of records, and in doing this you need to always take these three criteria into account:
- The possibility of reviewing and verifying research findings.
- The possibility of accessing data both short term and long term, including the opportunities for the public to access and review data.
- The possibility of re-using data in future projects.
The data preservation plan should answer the following questions:
- Which metadata and method descriptions are used?
- Are records pertaining to the aim, method and results of the research/project preserved?
- Have the applicable appraisal/disposal regulations been taken into account, and has the material been validated?
- How are the datasets structured? How are the different files related to each other?
- How is the quality of data assured?
- Which archiving formats will be used?
- Are there any legal obstacles or other restrictions affecting the access to data?
- How and when will data be made available?
- What data safety strategy will be used?
- Which storage media will be used?
- Which migration plan will be used?
- What appraisal periods apply and for how long will data be preserved?
Test your knowledge
- Can a data management plan be drafted at the end of a research/thesis project?
- Is it required to enclose a data publishing plan with an application for a research grant?
- Are the descriptions of metadata and data format part of the preservation plan?
- How can you guarantee that it will be possible to interpret and understand data over time?