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Research Data Management: Overview

Tips and best practices for data management across disciplines.

Repositories for Publishing Data Sets

Quick data management checklist

  • always keep original data
  • back up regularly (automate this if at all possible)
  • document your data thoroughly (metadata, data dictionary)
  • name and organize files according to a schema
  • use version control
  • secure the data appropriately
  • cite any secondary data you use
  • consider your long-term plan
    • What will you keep, for how long, where, and who will pay for it?
    • What kinds of reuse or sharing will be allowed? In what timeframe?

What is research data?

Research data is loosely defined as information collected, observed, or created for purposes of analysis to produce original research.

This includes observational variables like rainfall, wind speed, water quality, or survey data; simulated data from earthquake models; experimental data from lab instruments; and derived or compiled data for text mining or testing algorithms. Research data can take almost any digital file format (video, text, photographs, numbers), so managing it effectively can be a challenge.


If you've found this page, it's likely that you manage some form of research data, either your own, your lab's, or your advisor's. Many researchers are not taught data management skills in their graduate courses. This guide and accompanying workshops aim to help fill this gap with the expertise that librarians and data specialists can offer.

Why is managing research data important?

Good data management:

  • ensures integrity of data
  • ensures that data is findable and usable when grad students leave projects over the years
  • makes the data of a project readily understandable to people outside the project
  • enables the sharing of data within and across disciplines
  • makes it easier to archive and preserve data in the long term
  • encourages data citation to increase the impact of the research

"By learning how to preserve and share digital materials so others can effectively reuse them, you will maximise the impact of your research" (Digital Curation Centre)

Data that you generate with or for your research should be available to other researchers to help verify and advance your work. By becoming a good steward of your data, you will have a framework in place to help you keep track of your data, your data will be citable, you can help your graduate students achieve their goals quicker, and you will be helping future researchers in your field of study.

Public Access to Federally Funded Research

More Information

Data Management Librarian