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Research Data Management

Research Data Management

What is research data management?

Research data management involves the organisation of data, from the point of entry into the research cycle through to the dissemination and storage and archiving of research results and outputs. It is a key part of the research process and aims to make the research process efficient and to match the expectations and requirements of the university, research funders and legal requirements.

It includes:

  • The creation and usage of data;
  • Structuring, and naming data;
  • Providing data security, access, storage and back up;
  • Retrieving and sharing data with collaborators and more widely, publishing and obtaining citations. 

The Data Curation Centre (DCC) is a UK-based organisation  to support expertise and practice in data curation and digital preservation across communities of practice and has produced a useful data lifecycle model .

"Good research data management practice will ensure that data produced or used during the University’s research activities is registered, stored, made accessible for use and reuse (if appropriate) managed over time and/or disposed of, according to legal, ethical, funder requirements and good practice". (University of Sheffield).

The registry of research data repositories shows discipline specific repositories.              

Examples include the UK data service and NERC data centres.

What Constitutes Research Data?

There are different definitions of research data and this can depend on the context, discipline or funding body.

"Research data, unlike other types of information, is collected, observed, or created, for purposes of analysis to produce original research results" (University of Edinburgh).

"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." Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Research data may include:                                                                              

Documents, spreadsheets and presentations, notebooks, questionnaires, surveys, transcripts, film and photography, database contents. data files, models, algorithms, workflows, digital objects, slides, artefacts, specimens, samples etc.


Why Manage Research Data? 

Researchers should consider how to manage their data effectively at the start of their research process. This is good practice and can help with retrieval of files and datasets, efficiency in following required processes, protection of intellectual property, data security and integrity, data collection and analysis. It may also assist with sharing data with collaborators, or to enhance the opportunities to collaborate, be published and cited and ultimately facilitate future research opportunities. It also protects the reputation of the researcher and institution.

There is an emphasis on both researchers and institutions to be more transparent and ethical in their research processes and to maintain data quality and integrity. There are a wide range of data policies from funding bodies and requirements that some research outputs are made open access. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) in higher education places some emphasis on social and economic impact of research outputs.  There are also legal and regulatory demands in terms of disclosure (Freedom of information) and confidentiality.

Data Management Plans

What is a Research Data Management plan?

A one to two page document explaining:

  • What types of data will be collected and how they will be described.
  • How the data will be stored and kept secure.
  • Whether and how data will be shared and under which conditions.

"A data management plan (DMP) describes how you will collect, organise, manage, store, secure, backup, preserve, and where applicable, share your data. A data management plan should be created at the start of a research project so that good practices are established early" (University of Sheffield). The DCC have produced  guidance on how to produce a data management and sharing plan.

Jisc advise that most funders require researchers to submit an outline data management plan with their grant applications. This helps to develop a strategy for collecting, analysing, preserving and sharing data early on in the research process and helps to estimate costs.

The DMP online planning tool guides researchers with consideration for research funder policies. In order to use the tool, you need to set up an account. Your account can be linked to your institutional credentials and Orcid ID.

MANTRA is a free online course designed for researchers or others planning to manage digital data as part of the research process.

Managing Research Data at City

All universities should have research data management policies to guide researchers and ensure consistency across the institution. City advocates open acess to  research outputs produced by its staf and is currently in the process of developing data storage facilities and enquiries should be directed to the Research and Enterprise Office.

"Funders now ask that data underpinning published results, and any data with long term value, is made available. This is crucial for both the verification of those results and to maintain the integrity of the research. The data also allows researchers to replicate experiments efficiently and add to existing datasets" (Jisc). Jisc recommends the use of an institutional or subject repository as the best option for curating research data as long as it is sustainable and has policies which allow long term access to data.

City Research Online is City's institutional repository which contains research outputs produced by City academic staff and research students.  There are some datasets on City Research Online. Please see our City Research Online Library Guide for further information.

For advice about IT software packages such as Office 365 and data analysis tools such as SPSSMatlab and NVivo, please contact IT Services


Research Data Management Policies

Research data management is good research practice. Sometimes it is mandatory to have a research data management policy in place in order to receive funding for projects. City supports open access to research conducted by its staff.  

It is also an area of increased focus for government and funding councils. Research Councils UK (RCUK) views making research data as a core part of its remit as stated in the RCUK common principles on research data policy. All research councils have data management policies based on these principles. The Data Curation Centre (DCC) has produced an overview of funders' data policies.  EPSRC has explicitly outlined the responsibilities it expects qualifying institutions to fulfil with respect to research data, and guidance available on the Jisc website suggests approaches that will help universities meet the requirements. See our City Research Online Library Guide for details of open access policies.

Some examples of guidelines include:

SCONUL Research data management good practice guidelines.

Research data management guidance from Jisc.

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) has produced a guide for institutions developing research data management services.

Researchers are aware of the need to anonymise sensitive data where relevant, and clearly there are processes that they abide by in terms of making ethical use of data, alongside compliance with Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation.

Managing and sharing research data has significant potential benefits for the University, researchers and society, including the potential to engage the public and the research community and increase research impact. This also links to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).   

Research data management systems, plans and procedures in universities should have been fully implemented by 1 May 2015, the deadline set by EPSRC, a key funder, for full compliance with its policy framework on research data

Books on Research Data Management

Training and Resources

DCC Resources.

Learn RDM resources.

Training events and webinars

DCC Training

UK Data Service news and events.

Further Help

For advice on research data management, research ethics and integrity and research funding and policies at City, please see the Research and Enterprise Office webpages.

For advice about IT software packages such as Office 365 and data analysis tools such as SPSSMatlab and NVivo, please contact IT Services.

To view City’s open access research, visit City Research Online.  For further guidance about adding your publications, please see our Library Guides or contact For help with other areas of your staff profile, contact