With increased interest from funders and government policy about open access data the recent DCC seminar sponsored by R&KEO about Research Data Management helped explain the data cycle leading to open access.
So what is data? Several definitions exist but in essence anything collected, created, observed and used for your research, e.g. sketches, recordings, social media.
RDM is the process covering the creation and stewardship of materials for use “as long as they retain value”. Well managed and shared data raises research profile and impact, potentially adding to reputation. Clearly we need to maintain careful consideration of sensitive or personal data.
RCUK and many other research funders have an expectation that Data Management Planning (DMP) will be integral to project development and increasingly funders are asking to see your DMP with applications.
The DMP process looks at what data will be created, how it should be managed and includes sharing and presentation considerations. RCUK expect existing data sets to be checked to avoid duplication and Horizon 2020 covers exploitation, access and preservation, see the Research Blog for further information, also DCC offer a multitude of resources including DMP Online which will guide you through creating a DMP step-by-step.
So why share my data? Well the funders’ are asking for this as they see data as a public good and having paid for it they want to maximise their investment (mindful of privacy, security and commerciality interests). Also your data will be safely stored and available when you next require access. Others researchers can scrutinise and enhance the data resource leading to scholarly communication, with suitable citations to you.
Project feedback suggests that collecting data as you progress makes life easier towards the conclusion of the project. Additionally it is worthwhile considering your file naming conventions early on, e.g. name, structure, version. Storage and back up of data is important during the research process and afterwards, you may need the data again and others may have access also. With the latter point to mind some consideration to maintaining data in a repository is sensible, mindful of the economic versus value added conundrum. For example, keeping data available in newer formats to increase data mining in the years ahead. Further advice from DCC can be found here.