All researchers produce ‘data’ in the course of their projects and investigations. Without research data there is nothing to base research outputs on and more and more the data produced by a project can be seen as a research output in and of itself. All researchers are used to handling research data and disciplines have, over time, developed best practices in dealing with research data – be that data from a scientific instrument, e-lab notebooks, audio files of participant interviews, text transcripts or images from a gallery. Research Data Management (RDM) is vital to the success of a research project and as such there are roles for each member of staff involved in the project, from Principle Investigators and Project Officers to Individual Researchers and Research Technicians.
Research Data Management has recently become a priority for research funders, including RCUK who have issued their ‘Common Principles on Data’ Policy as well as the Wellcome Trust and Horizon 2020 (PDF) . These policies set out an expectation on researchers that they register what data they have created, where it can be found and make it available to other researchers as and when required. So whether your data stays with you or is shared with collaborators or is destined for a disciplinary repository, the important thing is that you know what it is, what you’re doing with it and what will happen to it in the future.
The University of Warwick has a Research Data Management Policy which has been created to guide researchers in complying with the funders requirements as well as to guide the development of support processes and services in the institution. As these services are finalised and launched we will be rolling them out across campus and inviting feedback to help develop them further.
There is help available:
- The best place to start is a resource pack on Research Data Management: the Essentials, collated by the Learning and Development Centre.
- Research funders are now requiring Data Management Plans (DMPs) in their grant applications. These DMPs are a good habit to get into even if you are not applying for funding as they can help you plan the actions you need to take at all stages of your research as well as being good practice for grant applications. The Digital Curation Centre has developed an online tool, DMPOnline, which walks you through all of the stages of creating and updating a DMP as you research.
- As you create your DMP it is worth investigating the range of quality storage options available from IT Services for people looking to ensure the security and long term life of their research data. These options are designed to be flexible and fit a range of use cases and needs, get in touch if you want to explore these options further.
- As part of the requirements for the research councils as well as the Warwick policy researchers need to ‘register’ their datasets with the institution. This can be done through WRAP in the same way as you would give us information about publications. Please email researchdata at warwick dot ac dot uk if you would like training in how to register your datasets.
The most important thing for researchers to do at this stage it to be aware of the best practice in your discipline for research data management as well as any requirements you or your research students may be under. We are developing training at the moment for researchers wanting to learn more, which will be available soon, but in the meantime if you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at researchdata at warwick dot ac dot uk.
The researchdata@warwick service is run jointly by the Library and IT Services.