Research data is any material that has been collected, observed, processed, or created for the purpose of analysis and on which the conclusions and results of a study are based.
Data management is an important part of any research project and includes the collection, organization, preservation and security, use and sharing, archiving, and long-term storage of research data.
A well-prepared Data Management Plan will help to collect and organize data during and after the project and disseminate research findings.
Good data organization practice is to create a folder/file system and develop a Naming convention at the beginning of your project and follow it consistently throughout the research. Using a logical file structure with meaningful file names will save you time by making it easier to find and track files. Use folders to group your research into different topics and create a hierarchical structure with multiple folders that cover broader topics with subfolders within them. Include a Readme text file describing the naming convention you use in your file directory.
Free access to data is necessary so that others can evaluate, potentially reproduce, or otherwise use what you have done. Research data should be archived in open, non-proprietary formats to ensure long-term access to the files. Archiving and disclosure of data should be done in accordance with legal regulations regarding personal privacy, information security, trade secrets, and intellectual property rights. Make sure you have permission to share data from your project. Be sure to include a data sharing clause in your Consent Forms.
License your data to determine how others can use, modify, and distribute it. Research data licenses should place as few restrictions on access and reuse as possible. Creative Commons licenses are predominantly used for the dissemination of research data.
The timeframe for data dissemination is usually related to publications, project completion dates, or certain norms in the discipline. However, the dissemination of research data should not be confused with the publication of an article describing the results of a study/experiment. There are journals that publish only research data. Articles with data are peer-reviewed, just like traditional journal articles, and can be cited in a resume and accumulate citations. This is an incentive for researchers to invest time and effort in preparing their datasets for public access.
In most cases, data repositories are the best place to disseminate data. Publishing research data and related metadata in a research repository ensures their long-term preservation, searchability, and accessibility.
The dataset should be cited in the article’s reference list, not just informally in the text. Many data repositories and publishers provide clear instructions on how to cite their content. If citation information is not provided, you can create a citation following generally accepted guidelines.