Data Management Planning Checklist
A Data Management Planning Checklist will help you maintain, preserve and add value to the research data produced throughout the project lifecycle. By actively managing your data, you reduce the risk of data loss or of the threats to data through software obsolescence over time.
A Data Management Planning Checklist also acts as an aid for those charged with producing ‘data management plans’ for submission to funders, and their subsequent development once funding has been awarded.
A sample checklist may look like this: (click on each section for further info)
Are there any funder requirements? Does the funder have a data sharing policy? Will I need to produce a data management plan as part of my proposal?
- Most funders have some form of policy regarding data, although the extent and detail of these vary greatly. See the funder policy page for summary requirements from each of the University of Oxford's main sponsors.
- Data archiving mandates (do I need to archive 'raw data' alongside final research results?) are summarised by the Sherpa JULIET service, provided by the University of Nottingham.
Are there ethical and legal issues to consider?
- Visit CUREC to learn more about the University's policy and guidance on the ethical review of research projects involving human participants undertaken by staff and students.
- Personal data or sensitive data may not be suitable for sharing with other researchers, depending on whether informed consent has been obtained from participants. You may wish to consider anonymisation techniques or data aggregation for numeric data, editing of video or sound recordings, use of pseudonyms in qualitative data etc. The UK Data Archive has a comprehensive guide on consent, confidentiality and ethics - see http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/create-manage/consent-ethics
- For copyright and intellectual property issues, the University of Oxford has an IP policy setting out the University's claims over IP generated by its employees and students. Visit the Intellectual Property pages within Research Services at: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/researchsupport/ip/ or contact the IP Rights Management team within Research Services.
- For more unusual copyright or intellectual property queries, or issues that need further interpretation, visit the University's Legal Services office pages.
- Visit the Ethical and Legal pages within this site for more information.
What about Freedom of Information and Data Protection Act obligations?
- For generic Freedom of Information help, visit http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/foi/
- For obligations under the Data Protection Act, visit http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/councilsec/dp/index.shtml
What about licensing issues? How do I determine whether my data is commercially exploitable?
- You may wish to determine whether your dataset is commercially exploitable. There may be restrictions or delays on data sharing needed to protect the IP, copyright or patentable data. View the Intellectual Property pages, or contact Isis Innovation for advice.
Who would be interested in the data? When should I not share my data? Am I obligated to make my data available? How and when and for how long?
- Most research funders have data sharing policies in place obliging award holders not only to publish but to share their data online in an open access repository. See the funder policy pages for specific requirements. You can also find out whether raw data forms part of archiving mandates using the Sherpa JULIET service.
- Researchers can comply with these requirements by depositing their data into one of the many available data repositories.
- Some data may not be suitable for sharing. See the UK Data Archive for guidance: http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/create-manage/consent-ethics
- There are ways to overcome certain obstacles to ensure data sharing can take place to a greater extent, see for example 'Anonymising Research Data' at the UK Data Archive. http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/sharing/anonymise.asp
- Sharing your research data facilitates research beyond the scope of the original research. There are many other benefits to sharing data. For more information: http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/create-manage/planning-for-sharing/why-share-data
What are research data and research records? What are the best formats for data creation and sharing?
- The University of Oxford sets out its definition of research data and records within its University Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records (219kb):
- "Research data and records are defined as the recorded information (regardless of the form or the media in which they may exist) necessary to support or validate a research project’s observations, findings or outputs."
- Your discipline will further define what data are for you - for examle, if you are a social scientist, your data may be survey results, interviews or statistics. Equally, scientists may compile 3D models, lab data, field data etc.
- For more information on data formats and sizing, see the UK Data Archive page on data formats and software.
- For general advice on file formats and sizing, you can contact Research Technology Services within OUCS.
What about metadata and documentation? Are there standards?
- Check the Organisation and Documentation pages for guidance on organising your data properly on a day-to-day basis.
- Metadata standards and documentation are discipline-specific. Consult within your discipline or contact Research Technology Services for specific advice.
- The UK Data Archive pages on Metadata and Documentation may also help.
How do I go about creating and managing Laboratory Notebooks?
- View the University of Oxford's pages on keeping Laboratory Notebooks as well as the University's policy on Laboratory Notebooks which highlights some of the important procedures to keep in mind when recording research data.
How do I backup my data in the short-term? What about security?
- Departmental IT Support should be your first port of call for storage of large-scale 'active' research data (i.e. when a server is required and not just your hard drive)
- Data Backup and Archiving on the HFS: This is the University of Oxford's primary service for the back-up and long-term storage of University files and data, including by individuals during the course of their research. The service is free to postgraduates and staff. The HFS can be configured to automatically perform weekly, as well as on-demand, backups of your files to safeguard against data loss in the event of computer failure.
- CDs and DVDs are not recommended as backup devices due to the risk of disk failure.
- Contact the Research Support team within IT Services for further advice on storage and security: email@example.com
- The University of Oxford's Information Security policy offers guidance, as well as advice on services provided.
How do I archive my data in the longer-term?
- As with backup, your first port of call should be your departmental I.T. team - for advice on archives and sustainability.
- Dataset storage: there are a number of projects within the University currently investigating issues related to the long-term management and curation of research data but as yet there is no formal research data archive service. Currently, Databank (https://databank.ora.ox.ac.uk/) is being piloted, but this is not yet a comprehensive service.
- The important thing is to be aware of your data requirements as early on in the project as possible, and seek advice from your departmental IT support or from Research Technology Services, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Research outputs: ORA (Oxford Research Archive) can store other research outputs and can reference larger datasets, and has the benefit of high visibility, easy deposit, digital preservation and open access. Contact ORA staff at email@example.com.
How do I disseminate and share my data? eg. open access repositories/data centres/institutional databases?
- Many funders now stipulate that you must share your raw data as well as your final research outputs in an open access repository of some sort.
- Data repositories - for a comprehensive list of subject repositories for sharing data and long-term preservation - see http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/Data_repositories
- Data Centres - some of the national research councils fund data services to curate, disseminate, and preserve data created as part of their funded programmes. Examples are the ESRC's Data Store service (previously known as UKDA Store) and the designated data centres from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
Links to further information and resources
- Social Sciences: The UK Data Archive provides a Data Management Checklist.
- Health-Related Disciplines: Session 2 of the DATUM for Health teaching materials gives an overview of the data curation lifecycle, including checklists for various stages of the process.