Research data comes in many shapes and sizes and its management changes over time. Kick off your research data journey by exploring different types and forms of research data and how they fit into the research lifecycle.
Why manage data?
Research is producing larger and more complex data than ever before. It is imperative that these data outputs are effectively managed and shared.
How is this achieved? By ensuring your data is better described, more connected, more integrated and organised, more accessible, more easily used for new purposes – it allows new questions to be answered, larger issues to be investigated, and data landscapes to be explored.
Research data needs to be managed to enable the following:
Data Management is an important aspect of 21st Century research, where data can be easily moved, copied and shared over the internet. The Federal Government encourages data management through its investment in the ARDC (the Australian Research Data Commons) whose goals include; exploiting Australia's data advantage by fostering better collaborations and faster innovation over data; and supporting data intensive, cross-disciplinary, global collaborative research.
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What is research data?
“Output from any systematic investigation involving a process of observation, experiment or the testing of a hypothesis, which when assembled in context and interpreted expertly will produce new knowledge.” (Pyror, 2012, p.3)
ANDS (Australian National Data Service) has intentionally left the definition of research data open to be as inclusive as possible.
What "research data" are we talking about?
Research data can be in print, digital or physical forms. All these different forms need to be managed.
Research data includes:
Activity 1. compile a list of the types of data you're collecting as part of your research. What would other researchers or collaborators need to know about these different types of data if they wanted to re-use them?
Congratulations you've completed part of your Data Management Plan (see page 3 of the DMP document)!
See 'Thing 9' for more information on data management plans.
Data often have a longer lifespan than the research project that creates them. Follow-up projects may analyse or add to the data, and data may be reused by other researchers. A data lifecycle shows the different phases a dataset goes through as the research project moves from "having a brilliant idea" to "making groundbreaking discoveries" to "telling the world about it"
1. Take a look at either:
a. UK Data Archive Research Data Lifecycle (if you are new to this concept)
b. DCC Curation Lifecycle Model (if you are familiar with this concept)
2. Have a look at the NHMRC Statement on Data Sharing (2 pages) and note the lifecycle diagram for data sharing
Consider: have you been through all of the steps outlined in this lifecycle? If not, which ones are new to you?
Research data is for everyone. Governments and Universities all around Australia and the world are now encouraging researchers to better manage their data so others can use it. Research data might be critical to solving the big questions of our time, but so much data are being lost or poorly managed.
1. Take just a minute to scan the public enquiry into Data Availability and Use. What are some of the advantages of making government data openly available?
2. This 4.40mins cartoon put together by the New York University Health Sciences Library, is about what happens when a researcher hasn't managed their data (at all…). What could possibly go wrong?!?
3. As you watch the cartoon jot down the data management mistakes which interest or appall you.
Consider how just ONE of the data disasters depicted in the cartoon could have been avoided.
4. And even companies as big and well resourced as Pixar Animation can fail to back up valuable data effectively. Watch this short video on how they almost deleted all the work they did on Toy Story 2 by accident and how they managed to retrieve it!
Melbourne City Council is committed to improving public services and supporting new economic and social initiatives - https://data.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about. Watch this video to find out more about this example of government providing 'open data'.