Do you want to get started with selecting research data for archiving?
Research data is stored for various reasons. For example, for analysis or follow-up research, or because a financier makes this mandatory. If you decide to keep data, which points are essential to be aware of?
There may be a variety of reasons for storing research data:
- The importance of the data: potential value for reuse, (inter)national positioning and quality, originality, size, scale, the production costs of the data or, for example, the innovative nature of the research.
- The uniqueness of the data: the data includes non-repeatable observations.
- The importance of the data for historical research, in particular scientific-historical research.
- The research data are important for non-scientific purposes (cultural heritage, museums or presentations).
In addition to these general considerations, research funders, such as the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), are increasingly requiring research data to be retained in order to enable reuse. The Dutch Code of Conduct for Scientific Integrity (pdf) also obliges researchers to preserve both raw and processed data for a period appropriate to the discipline and methodology.
If, on the basis of the above substantive reasons, it is decided to store data, the question is how this can best be done. The points below indicate what you can pay attention to when selecting research data.
- Technical: in which formats are the data available? Data is stored as much as possible in digitally sustainable data formats, software (standard or custom-made) or hardware.
- Processing phase: are the data at a processing stage (raw/unprocessed, semi-processed or published) that is most relevant for reuse?
- Metadata: is there sufficient information about the data available? Think of code books, the structure of the data, the intellectual property, the context and, for example, whether there are links to publications or related data files available.
- Intellectual property rights: is there clarity about intellectual property rights, such as copyright, database or patent law and the use of personal data?
- Infrastructure: is there a sustainable infrastructure available for storing the data? Think of a data archive or an institutional or thematic repository.
- Costs: is the cost of selecting, converting, long-term storage and making the data available taken into account?
More information on the selection of research data can be found in the publication ‘Selection of Research Data, Guidelines for appraising and selecting research data’. More information about depositing data can be found on the website of DANS and 4TU.ResearchData.
Research Data Netherlands
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