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Selecting research data

Research data can be preserved for different reasons, for example for analysis or further research, or because a funder demands it. If you decide to preserve  data for the long term, these guideline will help you selecting the data.

There can be different reasons for preserving research data:

  • They are valuable: potential value in terms of re-use, national/international standing and quality, originality, size, scale, costs of data production or innovative nature of the research
  • They are unique: the data contain non-repeatable observations
  • They are important for history, in particular the history of science
  • They are important for non-academic purposes, such as for cultural heritage, museums or other presentations

Next to these general considerations, research funder bodies like The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) are increasingly demanding for research data to be preserved in order to enable re-use. Furthermore the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (pdf) states that both the raw and the processed versions of data must be kept available for a period appropriate for the discipline and methodology at issue.

Selecting research data

When you decide to preserve research data based on the reasons given above, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Technical: which data formats, software (standard or tailor-made: research-specific tools), hardware?
  • Metadata: available and sufficient? Technical information, codebooks, information on data structure, contextual information, information on intellectual property rights, links with publications or related data (in a collaboratory e.g.).
  • Data: which data from which point of the digital life cycle: raw data, intermediate data, published data?
  • Clarity on intellectual property rights, for example copyright, patent and/or database rights, privacy protection?
  • Infrastructure available for preserving the data? Either a data archive or an institutional or thematic repository.
  • Costs: how are the costs to be covered for selecting, converting, preserving and making the data available?

More information

You can find more information about the selection of research data for preservation in the publication ‘Selection of Research Data, Guidelines for appraising and selecting research data’. More information about depositing research data can be found on the websites of DANS and 4TU.ResearchData.

Research Data Netherlands

Do you need support in selecting and preserving research data? Please contact us through