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Overview

Data management impacts anybody engaged in the handling of information or data, on both a professional and personal level. Good practice ensures that these information and data are stored and backed up securely, can be located easily whenever they are required by the user and are preserved for the historical record.

Management of research data in particular is important for the dissemination of knowledge and the advancement of science and academia; this is reflected in the open access agenda advanced by the UK Government, funding councils, and institutions such as the Royal Society and the Finch Group.

Management of data of all types has become increasingly digital and this presents challenges different to those associated with traditional paper-based methods. Unlike paper-based formats data storage is not stable – technologies become obsolete and media such as CDs or DVDs become unreadable over time, rendering the data contained on them useless.

Due to the pace of technological change there is a heightened risk associated with keeping electronic as opposed to paper-based records, thus presenting an increasingly urgent need to manage these records effectively to ensure they are not rendered obsolete alongside the technology that supports them.

These pages are being developed to provide information on the development of a new Research Data Management (RDM) policy and plan at the University and provide signposting for further information about research data management and related topics such as Freedom of Information, Data Protection and anonymising personal data.

Key reports are highlighted under the "Useful Resources" tab for reference. Links to funders' data management requirements are also provided.

About RDM

In recent years there has been rapid growth in research data produced by Higher Education institutions across the world. The EU, the UK and Scottish government recognise the need to better manage these data in order to make the best possible use of them.

Key funders of research at the University have also acknowledged this change and are now incorporating requirements for research data management into funding criteria. The University is required to comply with these expectations and develop and implement an institutional research data management (RDM) policy and plan by 2015.

Funders increasingly require that in addition to the finished product or research in the form of published articles, the underlying datasets be made available as primary research outputs for reuse by other researchers.

Good data management incorporates management of data at every stage of the data lifecycle, covering data capture; storage; preservation; access; reuse; and where appropriate, disposal.

Compliance with the expectations of funders will be vital in ensuring researchers continue to secure funding for future research projects. The University will provide the necessary guidance in this process and a consultation process is underway to ensure staff have the opportunity to communicate their needs and concerns with research data management to inform policy development and plan for implementation.

Making research data available to users is core to the remit of the Research Councils UK, supporting the development of institutional and project specific data management policies and plans in accordance with relevant standards and community best practice.

Support for Researchers

The University‘s Research Governance Framework provides guidance for good research conduct, including the security of research data and retention of research records.  

The University of Aberdeen is a subscriber to the UK Research Integrity Office, and complies with the UKRIO standards of research integrity and governance, including the security and accessibility of research data. Access the UKRIO’s requirements on data retention and storage

Policy

The University is developing a policy on research data management which has been agreed in principle by senior management. Policy and practice in this area is evolving, and we are working towards compliance with various research integrity and governance standards and funders’ mandates for sharing research data.

Implementation

 The focus will be on 

  1. Identifying processes and structures to support this activity
  2. Development of a University of Aberdeen research data catalogue
  3. Development of processes to monitor compliance
  4. General advocacy around research data management plans, 

With a view to comply with the EPSRC by 1 May 2015 and a wider roll out of the policy thereafter.

We have identified a large, multidisciplinary project as the pilot area for the implementation.  We will be working with administrators and researchers towards compliance with the EPSRC mandate.  This will allow an opportunity to identify and address practical and procedural issues, and to develop a programme for training and advocacy which will then be rolled out to other EPSRC grant holders and eventually across the University.

Infrastructure 

Research data management plans

Most research councils and other major funders require a data management plan as part of the funding application. The Business Development Officers in Research and Innovation and the Data Management team within IT Services can provide support and advice in the completion of these.

The Digital Curation Centre has developed an online research data management plan tool, DMP Online to assist researchers to develop research data management plans. We are currently working on customising this tool for research council applications with a view to rolling this out to staff towards the end of 2014.  Once in place for research council applications DMP Online will be rolled out for projects supported by other funders.

Costs for data management are an eligible cost from many grant funders, including the research councils. Costs can be requested for data storage and archiving as well as data management costs such as data co-ordinators, database costs and safe haven costs, providing these costs are incurred within the duration of the grant.

Institutional dataset catalogue

We are planning to use our research information system, Pure, as our dataset catalogue.  Pure allows for the recording of basic metadata and the storage of data within our institutional repository.  For data stored in external (subject) repositories, Pure can record metadata and link to the dataset via DOI or weblink.  The datasets can be linked to research publications and grants numbers on our grants database.  They can be marked visible to public and will then appear in the research portal, where they are fully discoverable. 

PURE

  • Guidance on how to add datasets to Pure - The dataset functionality in Pure is evolving, and the next versions of the system will add further items and workflows to the metadata. 
  • The RDM draft policy
RDM Guidance

If you do have any questions or need advice, please contact one of the key support services for assistance.

Creating Data

  • Bid Process
  • Funder Requirements
  • Data Management Planning
  • File Formats & Software
  • Freedom of Information and Data Protection
  • Intellectual Property

Organising Data

  • File & Folder Naming Conventions
  • Organising files and email
  • Version Control

Keeping and Storing Data

  • Data Security
  • Confidentiality
  • Backup Your Data
  • Selection, Retention & Destruction
  • Long Term Storage & Preservation

Finding and Sharing Data

  • Benefits of sharing data
  • How to make data accessible
  • How to share data
  • Open Access

Training and Skills Development

  • Internal training and development opportunities
  • External resources
  • MANTRA
Essential Links