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Research Data Management Guide: Store your data

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

Storage considerations

Appropriate storage and backup of research data is an essential component of data management to avoid loss or corruption of data both during and beyond the research project.  Section 2.6 of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research outlines the responsibilities of researchers to manage storage of research data and primary materials. For example, researchers must:

  • Ensure that research data and primary materials are kept in safe and secure storage, even when not in use (2.6.2)
  • Retain research data, including electronic data, in a durable, indexed and retrievable form (2.6.4)
  • Maintain a catalogue of research data in an accessible form (2.6.5)

When determining data storage, you should consider questions such as:

  • What are the data formats being used?
  • Could the data format be readily migrated to another format?
  • What is the anticipated volume of data to be collected or generated?
  • When and where will you need to access the data?
  • Who else will need access to the data?
  • How will the storage location meet privacy and security requirements?
  • Is the storage medium suitable for long term storage (data archiving)?

Charles Darwin University storage options

CDU eSpace serves as a stable repository for the long term preservation, management and appropriate sharing of research outputs, including medium to small sized datasets (no more than 5GB). Researchers can upload descriptions of their data and related data files through the Self Submission Portal. Data files can be assigned an embargo period or made available only by mediated access in cases where open access is not appropriate. These metadata records and attached files are stored in the eSpace's DATASETS AND PRIMARY RESEARCH MATERIALS collection. 

Charles Darwin University provides personal file storage space on the network file server. Postgraduate students are allocated 200mb of hard disk space, referred to as your ‘H: Drive', while staff have more.

It is strongly recommended that for University related data storage, CDU supplied data storage services and servers are used. The CDU Information Security Policy strongly advises users save work to network drives and discourages the use of email facilities for permanent storage.  Talk to your Head of School or School Executive Officer about school specific research storage drives.

For support and advice contact the

Other storage options

Other storage options include:

  • Local computer hard drive - password protection recommended for data folders.
  • Portable media such as external hard drives, CDs, DVDs and USB drives - these have the advantage of being cheap and convenient when working across multiple locations, however they can be easily misplaced, and are very sensitive to impact and even minor electrical charge which may leave to data loss and corruption so they may not be suitable for long term storage.
  • Research data repositories - refer to the 'finding data' tab for assistance in locating research data repositories which you might have the option of contributing your data to for long term storage and preservation (with a likely emphasis on data sharing and reuse).
  • Cloud data storage services - these services are becoming increasingly available; however there are issues of concern relating to security, reliability and data ownership. In relation to data ownership, a service may advertise as being in a specific country but the reality is that data may be stored anywhere in the world which creates the problem of data ownership and privacy laws and protection in those countries. If you are considering using these services, each needs to be considered carefully, and the End User License Agreement read and understood.

It is worth reiterating here how critical it is to have a backup strategy. This will allow you to recover data after loss and/or to recover data from a particular time.  Backups of more than one copy should be performed regularly, and they should be housed remotely from the main data storage. The backups should be labelled and well organised to facilitate any data restoration process.

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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