FAQ: Managing and Sharing Research Data
Answers were provided by the Division of Data & Digital Stewardship, Drexel University Libraries.
What is research data management?
Research data management is the organization, storage, preservation and sharing of data collected and used in a research project. It involves the everyday management of research data during the lifetime of a research project (for example, using consistent file-naming conventions). It also involves decisions about how data will be preserved and shared after the project is completed.
What is a data management plan?
A data management plan is a roadmap that outlines what you will do with your data during and after you complete your research. It describes the data that will be created, the standards used to describe the data (metadata), who owns the data, who can access the data, how long the data will be preserved or made accessible, and what facilities and equipment will be necessary to disseminate, share or preserve the data. It is an essential component of responsible research conduct. Many funding agencies require or encourage the development of data management plans for research. There will be costs associated with managing your data. Check with your funding agency if they may be counted in the budget.
How can I store data and share it with collaborators at a different institution?
Researchers should consult with their respective IT departments or Drexel University IT (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information about options for storing active data or sharing active data with collaborators at a different institution. The Libraries can assist researchers with identifying solutions for archiving "the data at rest" (their final dataset) for public access.
What is the benefit of sharing my data?
Sharing research data can be seen as part of the scientific method, extending the verification process and providing sources for new research. Data sharing encourages collaboration between researchers, which can result in important new findings, and gives credit for research outputs.
Am I required to share my research data?
Your funding agency may require that you share your data or make them publicly accessible. Also, many journal publishers now require that the data that underpin publications be deposited within a publicly accessible repository. You should share research data that is necessary to validate findings described in your publication, data that might be valuable to others, and unique data that cannot be readily replicated. The National Institutes of Health offers examples of studies that produce unique data: large surveys that are too expensive to replicate; studies of unique populations, such as centenarians; studies conducted at unique times, such as a natural disaster; and studies of rare phenomena, such as rare metabolic diseases (grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/data_sharing_guidance.htm).
What if my data contains patient health information?
Funding agencies understand that in some cases sensitive data cannot be shared. You should indicate in your data management plan why you can't share some or all of your data. However, sharing de-identified versions of your data can often be beneficial for verification of published results and potential reuse.
Can data sharing or public access interfere with my ability to patent an invention? And/or do I risk losing the opportunity to be first to press?
Most funders expect publicly funded research data to be freely available, with as few restrictions as possible. However, in most cases, delays or restrictions are acceptable if necessary to protect intellectual property or commercially confidential data. Review the guidelines of your funding agency. Contact Drexel's Office of Technology Commercialization for information about invention disclosure.
Does Drexel offer a data repository for researchers?
Drexel does not have a dedicated data repository. Drexel's digital repository, iDEA, serves as (1) an electronic archive of Drexel University institutional records of historic value; (2) an institutional repository for scholarly output (e.g., dissertations); and (3) a system for hosting digitized and born-digital collections of acquired materials. Since iDEA was not designed as a data repository, the Libraries is selecting test cases of Drexel-created research data to help determine what would be required to provide data curation and archiving services to the Drexel community. In most cases, there are funder-specific, discipline-specific, or multidisciplinary data repositories where you can archive your data to make it discoverable and publicly accessible. Visit the Libraries' Research Data Repositories Guide for more information (libguides.library.drexel.edu/data) or contact the Libraries (see below).
Where can I find information on managing my research data and creating a data management plan?
Drexel University Libraries is a resource for current practices in research data management and funder/publisher requirements for data sharing. Librarians provide Drexel researchers guidance on the creation of data management plans, assist researchers in finding appropriate data repositories, and consult with researchers on how to share data to meet publisher requirements. We can help you sort out exactly how your funding agency's policies apply to your research project. Librarians can also guide researchers to the appropriate Drexel faculty and staff to contact for areas outside of our purview.
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