Digital Curation Centre: Managing Research Data

Managing Research Data

Good research data management practice brings many benefits to the researcher, their discipline and society as a whole.

Ad hoc management of small quantities of data is straightforward. However, keeping track becomes increasingly difficult as new data is collected and existing data is processed, so a little investment at the start can reduce the burden of correcting or untangling issues down the line.

Why manage data?

Reduced frustration

Managing data makes it easier to:

  • write up papers and theses using data recorded and documented consistently throughout a project
  • continue using data after the researcher responsible has left the College
  • choose data for long-term archival and for disposal to save space

Reduced risk

Managing data helps prevent:

  • loss of data
  • inability to prove research findings
  • costly repetition of data collection
  • accidental breaches of privacy and ethical legislation
  • inability to support commercialisation of research outcomes

Improved research quality

Being confident in the robustness and completeness of your data now will allow future research to be built on solid foundations.

Improved reputation

Open access to data and information is a theme expanding in all areas of society. Transparency of publicly-funded research is important at both an individual and institutional level. For the individual academic, well-managed data can be shared with confidence, leading to:

  • additional citations of both papers and datasets
  • demonstrable impact through commercial use of data
  • unanticipated insights from new techniques and combination of datasets

Funder, publisher and institutional policy compliance

For the above reasons research funders and publishers, as well as Imperial College London, all have policies that require data to be managed properly. Some funders are starting to take previous data management into account when awarding new funding, while others are withholding final grant payments if data hasn't been managed properly.