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Research Data Management Guide: Why bother?

This guide aims to provide information and resources to support best practice in managing research data at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

Why bother

Good research data management (RDM) practices ensure that researchers and institutions are able to meet their obligations to funders, improve the efficiency of research, and make data available for sharing, validation and re-use. To support these goals, it is imperative that research data management is done properly from the outset; through the stages of planning, collection, analysis, publication, archiving and later re-use.  (Australian National Data Service)

The research data management imperative

The first five minutes of this short documentary on 'managing research data' produced by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) highlights the importance of providing access to research data and the risks of not managing data effectively.

How does it relate to you?

Data management relates to you as a CDU researcher. The 2007 Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Code) requires sound data management.

Internationally the requirement to lodge a research data management plan for Research Council grants is becoming increasingly common. Nationally, ARC and NHMRC grant recipients must now deposit their research publications in repositories in a timely manner. The ARC and NHMRC also recommend in the Code that research data and primary materials generated by publicly funded research should also be securely and safely stored, recorded and (within the constraints of legislation and ethical guidelines) made accessible to other researchers in order (1) to justify the outcomes of research and defend them and (2) to support the interests of future research.

It is worth highlighting that data isn't exclusively the domain of scientists. One of Jisc's Top 7 Predictions for the future of research (2012) noted data will drive research across many disciplines, e.g. social media provides a rich source of data for the humanities, and real-time analysis of social data will become more prominent. This will challenge the belief of some humanities/social sciences researchers that they don't deal in data, that they work with information or knowledge instead.

Why manage data?

The deluge of complex data being produced by research is of a greater value if it is effectively managed and described.  Managing metadata:

  • Preserves the integrity of the research
  • Allows data to be made available for others to use
  • Assists researchers to reduce the risk of data loss
  • Secures continued access to the value in data

Why make data discoverable?

Making data more discoverable:

  • Enables the demonstration of research excellence
  • Allows researchers to build upon existing data, instead of recreating it
  • Fosters innovation
  • Provides the ability to solve big problems across discipline boundaries

Why connect data?

Creating connections between research data is a central mission of ANDS because it:

  • Interlinks data to people to projects to publications
  • Improves the discoverability of data
  • Ties data to research achievements
  • Provides richer context for data value

Why reuse data?

Reusing data allows:

  • Verification of research claims
  • New discoveries from existing data
  • Integration of sets of data for new analysis
  • Re-analysis of expensive, rare or unrepeatable investigations
  • The reduction of duplicated effort

Contact us

Data research management at other institutions

For further information and resources on research data management, you may like to have a look at the support pages of some other Australian universities:

Online training resource

Research Data MANTRA is a free online course designed for research students and early career researchers, providing guidelines for good practice in research data management.

Charles Darwin University acknowledges the traditional custodians across the lands on which we live and work, and we pay our respects to Elders both past and present.
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