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Digital Scholarship: Research Data Management

This guide provides information and resources for using best practices in digital methods to produce scholarly and research work.

What is Research Data Management?

Research Data Management is the the collection, organization, documentation, and storage of research data. It can be boiled down to the "Who, what, when, where, and how" of data that is used for research.

Data Management Requirements for Canadian Funding Bodies

FAIR Principles

In 2016, the ‘FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship’ were released. The authors intended to provide guidelines to improve the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets. The principles emphasize machine-actionability (i.e., the capacity of computational systems to find, access, interoperate, and reuse data with none or minimal human intervention) because humans increasingly rely on computational support to deal with data as a result of the increase in volume, complexity, and creation speed of data.

Research Data Management - Best Practices

There are many different aspects to Research Data management, but here are a few of the basics. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch!

File Naming

  • Name your files in a consistent and readable manner
    • 2023-DataSet-03.csv makes more sense than data3.csv    

File Formats

  • Try to use formats that are open (i.e. not tied to one piece of software)
  • Proprietary file types are files that need to be opened in specific pieces of software
    • A .PSD file needs to be opened in Photoshop and will not work in other software

Documentation

  • A record of what files you have, what was in them, how they were used, and who used them. Examples include:
    • Making a README file to explain aspects of the project
    • Using a data dictionary to keep track of what each column header means in a spreadsheet
    • Creating good Metadata

Back Up Your Data!

  • Follow the 3-2-1 Rule!
    • 3 copies of your data
    • 2 different formats (e.g. cloud and laptop)
    • 1 copy off-site
  • USB drives are for data transfer not data storage!

After the Research is Over

  • Where will your data go after the research project is finished? Check out our page on Data Storage & Repositories for more information on this topic.

Data Management Plans

A Data Management Plan describes your data files, your plans for data storage, and rules for sharing your data. Many granting agencies now require them as a part of research proposals.