This blog is written by the Jisc team that work on research data related topics. It is largely concerned with activity relating to research data management and use. Most of the posts are about Jisc work that is developing new approaches and solutions to address research data management and use. It also includes posts about related activity and work we engage in with regards to research data outside of Jisc, for example where we might work with European projects or attend workshops and conferences.

Research data is an important output of research, and is used within the research process. At a broad level, data are items of recorded information considered collectively for reference or analysis. The commonly used EPSRC definition of research data is:

“Research data is defined as recorded factual material commonly retained by and accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings; although the majority of such data is created in digital format, all research data is included irrespective of the format in which it is created.”

Research data management (or RDM) is a term that describes the organisation, 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 (for example, depositing the data in a repository).

There are a variety of reasons why research data management is important:

  • Data, like journal articles and books, is a research output.
  • Data (especially digital data) is fragile and easily lost.
  • There are growing research data requirements imposed by funders and publishers.
  • Research data management saves time and resources in the long run.
  • Good management helps to prevent errors and improves research integrity.
  • Well-managed and accessible data allows others to validate and replicate findings (reproducibility).
  • Research data management facilitates sharing of research data and, when shared, data can lead to valuable discoveries by others outside of the original research team.

Increasingly the importance of managing and re-using research data is recognised as essential to the integrity of research and its validation as well as the potential to support re-use. Around the world this is being promoted at a policy level, and the UK research funders have policies in place that seek data to be managed by researchers and universities. Jisc is working to help address the challenges and realise the opportunities.

Prior Jisc work that was under the Managing Research Data programmes is also contained on this blog.

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